A family member posted recently that the growing trend of louder music in movies, shows, and talk media has really started to bother her. I know my husband turns off the radio when the constant tap tap tap of a drum is behind a commercial or talk show. And I’ve recently noticed that even “news” shows on BBC and other networks feature music (usually something with an urgent or incessant pulse)—not just at the beginning and end of the program, but in the middle of the program—sometimes layered within the reporting. And it’s no longer just “background music,” it’s a noticeable part of the experience.
I have to wear earplugs in the movie theater these days because someone in the movie industry has decided that the soundtrack needs to be cranked up enough to shake your bones. And the “best” movies are filmed at 48 frames per second so the image fills your head. And—ultimately—you should see movies in 3D so the action is right there in your face. It’s no longer just about talent, beauty, originality, or creativity—you need to leave the theater feeling like someone threw you in a blender and hit frappé.
Multi-sensory HD presentations are fevered bids to climb above the increasing noise in our lives and somehow “engage” us. Short-term, it may be a good thing for a company’s bottom line, but it may not be a good thing for our eyes, ears, brains, or humanity on the whole. I’m thinking that, twenty years from now, presentations at the UN will look like something the Blue Man Group put together . . . and the universally understood word in the world will be “WHAT?”
The current thinking is, “God forbid you should ever be bored.” But the very input that keeps people from being bored is ALSO the input that’s keeping us from thinking, from creating, from problem-solving, from sleeping, and from experiencing real life. A continual bombardment of sensory input may help us to avoid wrestling with the pain of a current situation . . . but it may also be keeping us from discovering solutions to it.
I remember when I was a kid and there was “nothing to do!” But after a few unhappy minutes, a broomstick became a horse to ride, a sock became a puppet, and climbing into the limbs of a tree, I could imagine I was in the tower of a castle or standing in the tall mast of a ship at sea.
A little silence gives the mind a chance to do the “work” of thinking. Quiet can be the cradle of good things.