Have you noticed the din of society getting louder and louder? There are so many things competing for our attention, that over time they seem forced to become even more competitive. Everyone feels the need to shout their message louder to be heard over the other messages out there.
A simple case in point. My son had picture day at school recently. I knew this because I was reminded twice in person by his teacher, in addition to receiving seven emails, a paper flyer, the actual order form (which I filled out and returned) and a pre-recorded phone call from the principal. Okay, okay!! It’s picture day!! I get it. I wrote it on my calendar the first time I heard. Why did I need to process 12 more reminders?
And that’s just picture day. At my son’s school. Multiply that by my daughter’s school, plus fall festivals, homecomings, fundraisers, sports and more, and I feel like I’m spending half my day throwing away unnecessary reminders.
But, if people are so busy, we have to keep sending our messages in every way possible until they get through, right?
The message overload is self-defeating. The more we shout and repeat our messages, the more clutter there is for people to sort through, the more they tend to miss or ignore the messages that are sent. It puts me in mind of that design adage that if you try to emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.
Now add to it all that the fact that it’s been election season. According to the Washington Post, the candidates spent $1.08 billion on over 1 million campaign ads, an increase of 40% from the 2008 campaign. Most of those aired in only 10 states. My parents, who live in the battleground state of Virginia breathed a visible sigh of relief when they came to visit California and didn’t have to watch a single presidential campaign ad.
More messages. Louder. They spent so much money shouting so many messages that guess what happened? They got the exact same result as in 2008, when they had spent and shouted 40% less.
Do you know what I do when everybody starts yelling? In classic introvert style, I tune out. During the VP debates, I seriously hid under the covers in my bed, with a pillow over my head so I didn’t have to hear it. The last few weeks before the election, I removed a number of friends from my Facebook feed – both Republicans and Democrats – because I couldn’t take one more status update of them calling each other spawn of Satan. Jon Stewart was two years too early with his “Rally to Restore Sanity” in 2010. Or maybe he just didn’t know how bad it was going to get.
Renowned philosopher Sean Young once said, “If you want to capture someone’s attention, whisper.” (Note the irony of me showing you a commercial to prove my point…)
Nuance? What’s that? An old-fashioned idea, apparently. But I, for one, could use a little old-fashioned. And a little peace and quiet. Will we get it, now that the election is over? What do you think? Or will our world keep getting louder and louder? (Please don’t use CAPS LOCK in your response. VIRTUAL YELLING will also make me hide under a pillow.)