Q is for Quiet

Noise over which we have no control is part of life in the capitalist world.

The loudness of noise is not necessarily a problem (although that does have its impacts).

Neither is complexity – consider the kind of music some of us choose to listen to…

What’s most damaging to us is our lack of power over when and how we are subjected to noise.

Quiet, so essential to us all, is a luxury that few can experience.

Silence is temporarily exhausted the moment a sound is made…

Quiet, on the other hand, can remain a rich and fertile pasture on which different sounds can graze… but only until it reaches a certain threshold.

Making sound fits easily into a world where we are encouraged to act as isolated individuals looking after number one.

Caring for quiet – which has to be negotiated with others – is something else entirely.

At the moment, we live in a world in which some sounds drown out others. This is true for other forms of information, too.

When was the last time you felt free to tune out the pummelling of our everyday lives by crisis after crisis?

The overwhelming volume of the information in circulation makes it almost impossible to get clarity… let alone the collective space to think and act creatively.

It’s crucial that we communicate and share different perspectives, experiences and thoughts. It’s crucial that knowledge is built from below.

Those in power bombard us with lies, half-truths, obfuscation, equivocation, and conflicting messages… This is a deliberate strategy. Information noise obstructs our ability to get a grip on the world around us.

This level of information overload has been made possible by technological advances. But its real origin lies in the way our lives – beginning from when we’re in school – are organised under contemporary capitalism.

The rapid disappearance of secure, permanent contracts, for example, means that workers are trapped in a never-ending labour of self-marketing and brand-curating. ‘Employability’ becomes a job in itself, taking up significant portions of the working week.

The result is that we’re not just condemned to exist in a society in which we’re under constant siege from noise: we’re also condemned to produce and perpetuate it ourselves.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Capitalist ideas of “noise” and “quiet” stop making sense when we start to assert our power.

From wordless fury… to raucous joy… we make different social relations.

Neither your silence nor your noise! Just the sounds of worlds being made!