Tuning The Dial

I really hope I’m not becoming a Grinch in my “old age,” but I seem to be quoting him a lot lately. “Oh the noise, noise, noise, noise!!” And no, I’m not referring to my husband’s new tube amp currently taking center stage in our living room. I’m talking about the cacophony of cultural noise.

Attached to nearly every industry or segment of American culture is a secondary industry that simply makes noise. Let’s take the Super Bowl for instance. Now I enjoy a good game of football just as much as the next person, but an entire day (an entire season, really) of pre-game and post-game commentary? All morning long the sportscasters hashed over stats and predictions, and every single person ended his or her spiel with, “it all comes down to whether or not (fill in the blank) can (fill in the blank).” So really, none of these people said anything at all. They just made a lot of noise.

And the noise isn’t limited to sports. This is an election year! Thanks to twenty-four hour news channels and the Internet we now have constant political commentary. But rather than tuning in to discussions of the issues facing America, we get to hear discussions of what a candidate needs to do to win the election. Again, we have political commentators arguing, waxing philosophical and making predictions about how “it all comes down to (fill in the blank) being able to (fill in the blank).” Ultimately, no one really says anything productive at all – just more white noise.

Lest you think I’m anti-American with my comments regarding sports and politics, let’s make it a trifecta and discuss the biggest noise juggernaut of all – celebrity. Does anyone really think that there is anything real about “reality” TV? Do we really need to know where a Kardashian bought a pair of shoes? Do we really need one more headline about Brad and Angelina?

How is any of this “information” useful? How does this excess contribute to the quality of our lives? It isn’t and it doesn’t – despite what smart phone and social media marketers would like us to believe. This constant barrage actually detracts from the quality of our lives. There is now so much white noise in the American culture that we can no longer hear anything at all. We can’t hear ourselves think, let alone hear the wisdom coming forth from within.

And if we’re seeking peace – whether it’s from the struggle with our bodies or our careers or our relationships – the voice from within is the one we need to hear. And I’m not suggesting that we fight the noise – fighting against that which we don’t want is rarely effective – and that would just make more noise! We need to develop better listening skills. We need to learn to control the dial – to learn to scan the white noise, recognizing it for what it is, and tune in to the frequencies that resonate with the wisdom within.