“I never worried about taking walks at night, even as a child. Or playing in gardens shaded by evening grays. Still, I was terrified of waking up in the dark silence of my room. I still tend to grab my mobile to avoid the deafening silence of the night.”
~ Maria Lehtman
We are filled with concern about the digital noise. I wonder if the digital silence is what people fear. The absence of a world to call for with an audience that answers in a random, orderly chaos. Deep down do we carry a fear of disappearing off the digital ocean’s radar?
The digital lifestyle
January 2017 Smart Insights reported that digital penetration for the internet usage had reached 50% of the world population, i.e. from the 7.4 billion people 3.7 billion are internet users. unsurprisingly 2.7 billion (37% penetration) were also active social media users.
Not a day goes by that I do not think what happens if all this goes down. That may be just me, and my inherent quality controller system within always looking for a contingency plan. There are ways to look at alternative technologies, but what does that mean for people. Can we cope without the digital synergy? Would our identities survive such a dramatic change?
Contrary to most of the people who started out in social media as a lifestyle and social choice – it was more a professional curiosity to me. To understand it, I had to include it in my lifestyle and keep continually looking for the balance. I take applications on and off the phone, create and discard accounts – just to see what works and what doesn’t work for me.
The ergonomy of a mobile is not kind to me; I’m waiting for the hologram versions! I use social media 80% of my time through PC. Yes, through the soon-to-be obsolete equipment. Never mind the hardware, what keeps me on it are the high-grade large screens, keyboard, mouse, and graphics capacity.
The all-powerful-connectivity for relationships
We had an interesting discussion with my niece a few years ago about the internet connectivity. She wanted to get to our WLAN, and we teased her about the how-would-you-survive-a-day-without-snapshot topic if the internet was down. The answer was “I would just use my mobile.” OK, this is probably what most teens would say.
So we asked what the plan B was if the connectivity was down? “I’d head to the nearest MacDonalds.”, was the prompt answer.
I should not have laughed then. It’s rare for a regular social media user to understand that, as an example, sea cables cover over 550’000 miles across our seabeds and keeping the connectivity operational takes funding – a lot of it. (And it is also a mystery why sharks now and then keep biting them…).
Even with all the contingencies, it takes very little to topple the connectivities down due to the multiple threats we have in cyberspace alone.
If networks go down, your standard mobile is as good a projectile weapon as a stone. As a communication device, it will be less efficient than a carrier pigeon. (A method of communication I hear CIA took back into production to avoid eavesdropping).
The question remains: who are we without the digital exitance. Does that define us?
What happens when we face a digital silence, a total outage, or a non-response from another person?
A relationship in my younger years survived with a weekly phone call. Today it takes a minimum 50 chats per day (an educated guess observing the general public). If you don’t hear back in two hours – they might have already broken up with you. What then.
The deafening silence of digital
So the answer is: Yes, digitalization has already begun to define us.
Without the digital tools, we lose immediate contact with our ecosystems. For Digital Natives social media is embedded in the DNA. So, we have a task ahead of us: dealing with the world outside the screens, and creating an identity in a potential digital silence.
Like the fear of darkness, digital silence can be terrifying, traumatizing and isolating. However, we may never learn how to deal with a being alone with a digital device blocking our view.
Imagine being cut off from everyone you love and everything you cherish to do.
At one point in my life, I was taken ill for months. Due to my condition, my nervous system was overloaded and could not cope with electronic disturbance. That included anything from watching TV to having phone calls. I was in constant pain. My only relief was that I could listen to music as long as it was calming and classical (and not through a headset). My sincerest thanks to Yo-Yo Ma, and his beautiful, inspiring work!
Given that my outside contacts were limited, my day-to-day rescuers during that period were my husband, my physical therapist, music and meditation.
Every day I fought the same urge to break down. What kept me going was that my only other choice would have been an early retirement. It was such a depressing thought, so crushing that in seven months I fought my way back to the business world. I came back to a different role having let go half of my career dreams but reaching out for another goal. An opportunity to be more creative, to be part of the digital expansion starting with the enterprise social media.
I was ready to do anything to avoid the digital silence. The one outlet that connected me to the world when I had to resume constant traveling.
I never forgot the lesson though. Everyone has to have coping methods for managing digital silence. I had established routines for mindfulness and meditation years ago. I went back to my childhood, looking for ways to express emotions through quick, simple sketches, sampling music that I had liked, going out for short walks whenever I could manage them.
If you don’t have the coping mechanisms – start looking for them now. Life is full of surprises. The answers you are looking for are inside you. If you train your mind, you can handle the digital noise just as well as the silence.
“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.”
~ Chaim Potok, The Chosen
Ref. Ref. Weekly Photo-Challenge by Daily Post: Silence