Brave New World and Why Silence is Necessary

I read Brave New World in one sitting. (Don’t do that). It was hugely disturbing, but I couldn’t put it down. I had nightmares afterwards.

At first, it just seemed surreal and unbelievable. I’m not really much of a one for sci-fi, much as I love both science and fiction. But as I continued, I found something all too familiar about the story. It wasn’t the technology or weird sexual mores or anything to do with the societal structure, though I’m sure you could draw plenty of parallels. It was the complacency. How accepting the people were. How almost none deviated from their assigned lane or wanted to. All the brainwashing, the soma (cellphones, anybody?), and most of all, the hatred of silence.

Silence. When was the last time you sat down with no devices, no distractions, no noise, just you and your thoughts? The last time you were bored? The last time you had a day free of advertising? The last time you had true privacy? The last time you faced…you?

Of all things one could be worried about, this seems silly. So what? What’s so great about quiet?

Here’s what. When you are alone, in silence, with nothing to do, your brain has nothing to occupy it. You will begin to hear your thoughts, actually feel your feelings, become attuned to your body. You will start to actively think. Then the magic happens. You will learn about yourself, examine your life and values. New ideas will fill you, old dreams resurface.

Maybe you will realize you are happy and content with your life and the path you are taking. You are delighted with the people in your life. You are healthy and wise. You have what you need. You are the driver of your existence.

But more likely, you will find that you aren’t prospering in your environment. You find that the people in your life put you down, that the place you live is not your spot, that your job is slowly driving you crazy, that you are hurting or depressed.

And when you know that, you will want to act. And your actions might not be the sort that suit the proverbial square hole that your society wants you to fit in. And if too many break away from the plan, things change.

Noise is a great way to keep people in line. If they are feeling frenetic and like they have no time, if they are being constantly made to feel unworthy or miserable and then conned into buying shiny objects, if they are numbed to the suffering of their fellow humans by alternate fear-mongering and stupid fluff, if they are given as little space as possible to develop real relationships, on and on…

Then they won’t have the ability to stop, to actually ponder their life and the state of the world, to have real conversation, to evaluate the information they are constantly fed…and thus possibly rebel.

It’s not planned really. There’s no big organization plotting something devious and wanting us to stay in line. This is just a lucky accident for those in power. But it works, because we are afraid to face ourselves and break from what’s comforting — even if it’s awful.

So, I dare you. Turn off all technology, sit down, and actively think. Write it down maybe, or just let it run. Try meditation. If you find something wrong, create an action you can take — then take it! Find a way to pull away if you think you are losing your ability to make wise decisions. Have an important conversation face to face. And most of all, beware your own fear and just accepting what you are told.