The world of social media is a world full of noise. It is the noise of a hive mind lost in trivia, its synapses firing wildly,its thought processes clicking and clacking away hurriedly. It is the noise of a billion voices shouting at the same time: echoing, questioning and extending what has been said. All this noise – produced by a collective consciousness soaked in caffeine and bored with its day job.
Yet this virtual world of noise has come increasingly to dominate the ‘real’ world, so much so that without a track record of opinions, likes, and comments, your existence on a Planet Earth of flesh, bone and mud will be called into question. This is especially true if you are engaged in any type of creative work, whether or not you are getting paid for it. Without generating enough noise, it is assumed that you are not really here.
The thing about noise is, anyone can make it. It that sense, it is relatively democratic. With limited resources, a community activist in Baltimore or Bangladesh can make as much of it as a multinational company. Not all noise is bad. It can irritate or even threaten the powerful, especially when they have an interest in maintaining silence on a particular issue.
But if you apply your energy to working with words or sounds or images, how do you stop these getting lost in a cacophony? Maybe you can’t. Maybe that is the nature of living in a digital universe where everything is a stream of zeros and ones. Maybe each word you write or sound you make merely adds to this stream, without any real sense of which direction it might be flowing.
Whenever I feel like I’m getting lost in noise, like I’m drowning in it, I try and return to the idea of creation, whether of words or of sounds, as a form of transformation: a way of distilling and filtering the information around me, of reclaiming my own mind from corporate-sponsored noise and and trying to access a clearer sense of myself.
Related post: Electronic Alchemy