Offbeat – 19 October 2012
Look at a child running towards friends. The yells and shouts proclaim, “I am here! See me!” Like the demonstrators, noise is a way for young people to be noticed. Kids shout to one another and shout louder to drown one another out.
Last week a bunch of people got together to bang pots and pans in the road in the Global Noise Protest, part of an anniversary of the Occupy Movement. It happened in Madrid, Mexico City and London. There were probably other places which weren’t so interesting. The notable photos were of people banging pots and pans. Some people lay on the road in a relaxed way. Some people posed in their underwear. One man wore underpants on his head.
I have a different take on the matter. I think that there are too many people, and that everyone is too busy or preoccupied with themselves to pay attention to everyone else. People don’t really get the attention they want or need, so they find opportunities to show their anger and try to make a difference in the lives of others, in the hopes that someone will give them a pat on the back and tell them how sweet they are.
People are also bored. Life is an endless round of work or unemployment, punctuated by television and recreational drug abuse. The chance to stand in a road, to make a noise, wear underpants on their heads in public, have become a way to do something different, for once.
I believe that many people will carry the memory of their participation with them, for the rest of their lives, like treasured mementos. As it stands now, I carry the memory of a poem by redneck poet and author Jimmy Pudge, in which he points out that the notional 99 percent, who stand in opposition to the one percent, the target of the demonstrations, don’t have the time to protest. They are too busy trying to keep their heads above water.
Civil unrest comes in many different forms and there are hundreds if not thousands of different demonstrations every day. The events have become as passe as bombs in the Middle East. This one stuck with me though, and the reason was the form it took, noise.
Noise is my nightmare, and it becomes more dreadful with each passing year.
Noise is a thing of childhood and youth. Look at a child running towards friends. The yells and shouts proclaim, “I am here! See me!” Like the demonstrators, noise is a way for young people to be noticed. Kids shout to one another and shout louder to drown one another out. A choice of music is a way for an individual to define himself or herself, so it becomes a way of posturing, but in order to counter the posturing of others, the volume has to be turned up.
Kids and youth use noise as a means to establish their personalities, to test what works in the perception of others. Age reduces the need. As we get older and begin to internalise what we are, there is less need for us to establish ourselves in the perception of others. Shouts become something unnecessary. Music becomes a pleasure to be enjoyed from time to time, so the volume is generally turned down.
At this point, based on my own experience and suspicion of others, lower levels of noise become a way of life. Not only is there less need to make a noise to define and reinforce your own personality, but the attempts of others to define themselves with noise become intrusive.
I feel quite settled in my way, and I don’t want to have to much truck with others outside of my family, some treasured friends and a few respected individuals. Noise jars me and is upsetting. In the case of the Global Noise protest, the thought of people banging pots and pans is something that disturbs me. I can vividly imagine, hear in my mind, the cacophony.
It’s important to understand the value of silence, while we are here. Processing of noise takes space in the mind. Silence leaves room for thought. The less distractions, the better the possibility of arriving at a clear and focused thought. Silent environments are also less stressful.
It’s a shame that people are putting so much effort into making noise as a part of the Occupy protests. The moments are ephemeral and the change will not be as strong as, for instance, some quiet activism, which will make the participants valued and will have a more lasting impact.