Congressmen Ami Bera, David Cicilline, Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger talk problem solving.
Noise is everywhere. Noise is annoying. Noise is distracting. Noise is also a clear and present danger to our civil society.
The political noise of speeches, paid promotions, and the news (OK, the so-called “news”).
The social noise of status updates, tweets, and news feeds (again, just so-called “news”).
The inspirational noise of self-help gurus, deep thinkers, and everyone with a profound thought and a computer or a smartphone.
The assistance noise of medical cures, weight loss aids, and energy creators.
The economic noise of discounts, deals, and the chance to get it now.
And, then, there’s the advertising. We’re surrounded by advertising. In the brave new world of online technology, we are all “eyeballs.” We are all the products of the online services who sell us to their true customers, the advertisers.
Yes, the noise is everywhere. Noise is deafening. Noise blinds our eyes. But worse, noise also breeds labels that threaten our peace and tranquility, our knowledge and understanding, and our respect and civility – all necessary for effective governance in an open, representative democracy.
Noise competes with visual space and time. There’s only so much room on a computer screen, and even less on a mobile device. There’s only so much that can be conveyed in a message of eight seconds. Yet, even the main stream media encourages us to convey our thoughts in 140 characters. Even the President tweets.
So, we create more labels, because we have no choice. We have so little space, so little time. But, the more the noise, the more we lose our civility, our clarity of thought, our nuance of meaning, and our appreciation of knowledge and perspective. They are casualties of the noise.
Our democracy was founded on the principle that an informed electorate could make intelligent decisions and could govern itself, if people had education and knowledge. Yet, the noise, and the labels that it forces us to create, is taking us in the wrong direction.
We have to quiet the noise. We have to think clearly and speak softly … and slowly. Our future depends upon it.
Art Bushkin is a writer, philanthropist and social activist. His principal cause is Harnessing the Power of Technology for Social Good and he actively promotes K-12 Open Educational Services. For more on Art, check out artbushkin.com.