The Sound of Silence

The more information we have, the less we know. The more people talk, the less we hear. The more TV we watch, the less we see. Silence like a cancer grows.

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Image by Katie Tegtmeyer (CC)

Note; I do hold the readers of this blog and the people in my network in high regard. Insult is not intended. Yet, if you do feel offended, don’t start yelling at me, but try and figure out why you are offended. And, if you wish, we can always have a civil conversation about it.

The past year or so has provided us with a whirlwind of disturbing information. Information which is widely available and has a profound impact on our society and mental well being.

My opinion? We are controlled.

We don’t like to be, we pretend not to be. We pretend to be the deciders of our fates. But we willingly accept our inability to control what we see, what we read, what we write… even what we think.

Everything is fed to us by news outlets, cable companies.., and the government. The illusion of choice is everywhere, and we all believe we have that choice. While in reality, science (i.e. clever people in marketing) has found a way to convince you to buy something you don’t want, or need. We are confused.., despite of all the available information we no longer know who to believe, so we choose what is most convenient for us, what has the least impact on our time and/or wallet.

This perpetual state of confusion is the perfect control mechanism. At one hand we are told not to text while driving, on the other hand we put up billboard video screens distracting us from the traffic in front of us.

Propaganda might have been popularised by Goebbels, but it certainly did not die with him. Quite the opposite. US cinema is a convincing tool for the armed forces to fill the public with a sense of invincibility, patriotism and justification for the ridiculous amounts of money spend on US’ defence budget. And they are extremely skilled at it.

The notion of an opinion is concealed by a false sense of patriotism and a skewed sense of morality.
The notion of an original thought is drenched in a deluge of information and regurgitated nothingness.

The anonymous postings on various “social” channels drag mediocrity to an all time low. Having people focus on senseless and mundane topics, and feeding young girls a “belieber” state of mind which is outright worrisome.

The relentless sexism, racism, and narcissism has been given an uncontrolled worldwide and lightning fast outlet. No need to confront, to apologise or take any responsibility.

The complete inability to see beyond the high definition screens in front of us is as worrisome as dehumanising a specific demographic.

Darker Thoughts of Late

I talk about stuff like Prism, the NSA, the environment, and decisions made solely for the sake of profit, in the attempt to explain certain concepts and consequences.

And lately my writing about social business and its sociological impact has become somewhat polluted by these big real world problems. Problems seemingly far removed from the office.

More and more I tend to believe that the wishes we have for our workplace, the improvements we seek, the happiness we seek are not just related to our jobs. I more and more tend to believe it is merely a subconscious expression of the gargantuan problems our society faces, now and in the near future.

The current technological developments and philosophies might just be the enablers for the change we seek so dearly. Just maybe we can have that little bit of control we desire so much. Just maybe this gives us a fighting chance of regaining the individualism and personal freedom we need as humans. We sure as hell can’t expect this from our governments.

Bears vs. Eagles

I am a realist, have an open mind and a vivid imagination, I consider myself a eagle, rather than a bear.

The one being able to see the bigger picture, to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated events. I’m wide awake (at least I’d like to think so).

On the other hand, a bear has tunnel vision, limiting what it sees. Unable, and sometimes unwilling to see there’s more to the world than meets the eye. Hibernating for a good part of its life.
And yes.., unfortunately there are far more bears than eagles.

However, whatever narrow-mindedness you have bestowed upon yourself (if any of course), there is no way you can deny that developments of late do not have an effect on the individual.., this does include you!

I certainly believe it does, and whether you like it or not is totally irrelevant. How can you not be affected by it?

How can you not worry about climate change?
How can you not worry about the relentless (and very illegal) information gathering by our governments?
How can you not worry about the continuous warmongering and the absurd glorification of dying for your country?
How can you not worry about the ongoing misuse and abuse of religion?

How can you not worry about that?


We’re taught to worry about Orwell’s dystopian view in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four‘, and this does seem far removed from our reality, at least for the western world. North Korea springs to mind as a nation which utilises this view through an extreme version of communism.

Meanwhile, in the west we think we are under no threat of such an extreme form of control. But there’s more than one way to skin a rabbit. Huxley wrote very prophetically about our Brave New World back in 1931. Foreseeing our current information overflow, perfected distractions, and love for things. (edit: Richard Martin reminded me of ‘The Circle‘ by Dave Eggers, a more modern take on the subject)

These distractions are perfect for those in control. News is old as soon as it leaves your screen. A Twitter stream goes so fast, only when something goes global does it stand a chance to be picked up long enough to mean something. The revelations Snowden and Greenwald brought us are of such significance that it should shake the very foundations of our democracies (the NSA did respond, take that as you will).

And yet, what has been done about it in the past two years.., nothing. No political outrage, no heads rolled, no policy changes, no impeachments, nothing. No (significant) government and ally of the United States dares to oppose them.., or wants to oppose them, as they benefit as much from all the surveillance as their big brother.

Too many people are more concerned with who wins The Voice than who collects your private data. And all are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new Apple Watch. Our priorities are skewed, unrealistic even.

Those things we so love and which we find so important really are not.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The greatest trick the Devil pulled was making people believe he didn’t exist.

Part of our current crisis is that most of us believe there is no problem, or at the very least the problems portrayed are not related to them. Most have their own cross to bare.

With the economic crisis, which is well into its 6th year, people are very anxious about their jobs and pay-checks. And I don’t blame them. Loosing your job leads you directly to the food bank and welfare. Or at least that’s the common perception., and again.., I don’t blame people for thinking this.

All this is coupled to a continuous news stream of terror, war and violence.

I don’t blame people for choosing the secure road of keeping ones head down, do your job, don’t ask to many questions and above all.., do not take any risk. Most people are left with little to no choice. Fear is a powerful means of suppression.

More and more we fear those in charge. And more and more those in charge fear us less and less. The trick is not just to have the right propaganda and legislation, the trick is putting your citizens in a position where they no longer dare to step out of line… not because of anything they’ve done wrong, but because of the consequences any observable action might have. Former East Germany had this system perfected.

Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.- John Basil

Sound of Silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.

The Sound of Silence was recorded in 1964, 51 years ago, and I feel it was, at the time, prophetic. Its exact meaning isn’t entirely clear, but I guess that doesn’t really matter.

As with most songs, either there is a very clear message, or the writer is poetic and the message is left up to the interpretation of the listener. I had been listening The Sound of Silence for years now, but lately it fell more in place than usual.

To me, now, it resonates so well with the signs of our time.

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know –
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you.
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.

Author: Rogier Noort

Digital Transformer | Thinker | Listener | Speaker | Podcaster | Writer | Blogger Twitter or LinkedIn.

4 thoughts on “The Sound of Silence”

  1. Hi Rogier, a thoughtful and provoking post, as always. While I agree with some points, and disagree with others, my question to you would be what is the specific call to action, other than “caring” about those topics you mention? I personally see it differently. The sound of silence (finding a space to disengage from those messages and the onslaught of technology) offers us the opportunity to look inward for answers. That is not the point of the beautiful song, but for me, it helps answer the challenges you present. The fear of authority, and their increasingly disregard for others and lack of fear of consequences, is a great point.

    1. Making the concious choice to be silent, or be unplugged for a bit is something you should do, once in a while. Indeed, if only for a different perspective. I worry more about the resignation of people. Where they’re lured into accepting a world which is more and more unacceptable.

      If you are able to take the lighter side of the song,

      I deliberately did not seek to offer a call to action. This I left for the reader to determine. What I’ve written is more an opinion piece than a blogpost trying to “solve” a certain issue. I do believe most is firmly rooted in reality, but the world isn’t perceived equally by all. Which is also part of the problem, and the eventual solution, I guess.

      If there is one thing I’d like to achieve with this, then it must be awareness. Not even ‘caring’ about a certain topic. What I worry about is that so many people don’t even see it. If only they’d be a wee bit more aware, then caring can follow.., and with that change.

      Thank you for commenting Maureen.., and thank you for the challenge, it is gratefully accepted.

  2. Hi Rogier,
    Thanks for sharing such a thought-provoking piece. Like you, I share many of the same concerns and feel concerned about the state of society. Seems we’re playing a very dangerous game in unchartered territory. Here in the U.S., I’d like to add that the “powers that be” have succeeded at pitting most of the population against itself. It’s sad to see many people I respect get pulled into fictional storylines about “the other party.” Many seem to be losing the ability to find common ground on issues, or even the ability to search for the truth. The truth is becoming whatever a talking head tells us it is (on the media outlet of our choice) or by the random social media post that conjures up a deep emotional response at truth’s expense. People can’t seem to listen to someone’s opinion without feeling offended or attacked, or feel the need to debate until they can undoubtedly claim they are right! What to do? Such a gargantuan mess. There’s certainly not a silver-bullet answer.

    1. Thanks for the comment Tony. Yes, it does seem a gargantuan mess. And yes, once you start noticing things (issues) and you start talking about more, more issues seem to pop up.

      I just hope more people become aware of this, and do seek the dialogue instead of the monologue.

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