The Magic of Shutting the Hell Up
We have a habit of thinking we’re interesting, when in fact we’re regurgitators of bullshit.
We record every damn second of our lives, leaving nothing to the imagination. As a writer, my imagination is wildly active, and I try to discern when is the best time to share my creative insights. Most of my musings go unrecorded due to a simple fact. It’s not because of the theory that the government uses our technology use to spy on us. Nor because I want to ‘live in the moment’ and not in my phone. The simple fact is that I like to think my thoughts and words are valuable. Not everything I think, say or do is for public consumption. The art of keeping things to ourselves is dead. And it’s damaging our ability to evolve.
We live in a time of experiencing, sharing, communicating, and comparing. And not learning a damn thing.
The amount of content that exists today makes it seem as if words are a dime a dozen. Everyone’s talking about the same thing, about different things. About nothing. How many times have you caught yourself in the vapid rabbit hole that is your social media timeline? Were you worse for wear after you bombed your brain with senseless commentary and flashy videos? Did you then scroll down into the comments section to watch faux-feuds erupt between strangers because they just had to say something? Content Fatigue. It’s exhausting and unnecessary.
I blame the Internet. I blame millennials. I blame myself.
Why the Internet?
The Internet has us all fucked up. Yes, it has made us efficient. But it also makes us reactionary, leaving zero room for deliberation or simple fact checking. This is why fake news was (and is) so successful. The sensationally untrue content was primed for dissemination. Not discussion.
Exorbitant shares led to exposure, exposure led to belief. Belief incited us to model our own thoughts off of these heinous articles. We reacted — hard. Instead of listening, we got mad. Who cares what the source was, or why the point of view even existed? We prepared cocky comebacks and baseless rebuttals. All in the name of joining the conversation, of being part of a group and not understanding the whole picture. That is what the Internet is. It is a black hole of festering discourse with only a small percentage dedicated to thoughtful musings and actionable prose.
The Internet has left us without legs, equipping us with the biggest ears, the largest mouth and the nimblest of thumbs.
I have no shame slapping the tired label of “Millenial” on myself. I know what year I was born in. That’s what they want to call us, I’m cool with it. What I’m not cool with is the ease in which everything is made available to us (see Why the Internet?, above). This accessibility goes to waste in the hands of complainers. It opens up portals for disgruntledness, making noise where there was none. Our generation is an inquisitive bunch, but curious about the wrong things. We have a ton of valuable information up for grabs, but instead, we place stock in talking shit and judging the hell out people we’ll never meet. Are we really that angry, that opinionated? And if so, why are we not developing more scholarly work? If someone presented their judgmental theory backed by reasoning so well-thought out that there wasn’t any room for contention, I’d be with it. But this requires time and energy, attributes us skimmers do not have. We are connoisseurs of the superficial, spewing half digested ideas into an incomprehensible mush. More of the same nonsense.
As much as I judge, as much as I am annoyed by my fellow peers, I acknowledge the environmental dent in my well-being. When I have conversations with people, even close friends and family, I only listen to respond. Catching a few key words, my brain forms 5 responses before they have even taken their next breath. I then jam that half second of breath catching space with senseless talk, because my ideas matter too. I also tend to speak at a higher volume as my rant continues, because the less sense you make, the louder you become. But sometimes — these sometimes are becoming more of the norm nowadays — I shut up. And I listen.
Magic occurs when you do this. You learn. You tap into different perspectives, you gain insights on some of your weak areas. And you get a better understanding of who you are. Is all the noise we’re making meant to distract ourselves from ourselves? That could be one spin on the non-stop flow of nonsense. But it can also be that we want to belong, we want to be heard and most importantly, understood.
Only when we can understand the importance of listening, will we be heard.