As someone who struggles to put the iPhone down I have come to a realization that there are times when it is necessary to unplug from the device….and the noise. We live in a world full of noise. From the constant ‘ping’ and updates on our iPhones to the noise of the 12 TV’s that adorn the walls of a busy restaurant; our world is inundated with a stream of continuous images and stimulation. Endless entertainment and instant gratification are at our fingertips, literally. No longer do we have to wait for our favorite music video to play on MTV or VHI. In fact, we can bypass the TV altogether and simply download the app for YouTube, Spotify or just about anything.
The question we should ask ourselves is: Do I own my iPhone, or does my iPhone own me? The iPhone can be interchangeable with a TV series, social media, Netflix, or fill in the blank.
The awakening of this question happened last weekend when I was hanging out with my friend in a local bar in Philadelphia. Apparently the premier of Game of Thrones was on that same night. My friend, Alex and I were enjoying a game of scrabble all the while about 20 other people were in the same bar carrying on. However, as soon as the show started, the same 20 people fell completely silent. As Alex looked up from scrabble, everyone around her seemed to be in a trance, staring at the TV screen (s). The show seemed to have had a hold on them. While entertainment isn’t always bad, are we allowing ourselves to be so wrapped up in it that we are losing a grip on ourselves? Are we becoming drones?
Here’s what C.S. Lewis has to say about noise in his book Screwtape Letters:
Music and silence–how I detest them both!….[Hell] has been occupied by Noise–Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile–Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end…. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. (The Screwtape Letters, 119-120, emphasis added).
Let us give ourselves permission to take a step back from the noise so as to collect us. St. Teresa of Calcutta says, “In the silence of the heart, God speaks.” If we clear some time for silence, we will be able to hear God speak in our lives, which will enable us to keep our center.