If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it really make a sound? That’s a hypothetical question my father used to say to me both tongue-and-cheek, and as a masked brain-teaser. I went back to my childhood for a bit recently in a nostalgic way, but also in practice.
I stopped blogging. Stopped tweeting. Stopped writing. Stopped broadcasting. My Facebook friends I’m sure were happy I did—those who hadn’t already turned off my “noise.” The quietness taught me several things. I learned the following things:
1. Noise corrupts thought.
2. Noise is a distraction.
3. The more noise you’re around, the more you can tolerate.
Twitter actually helped me to turn the volume down. It limited me from letting the noise get louder. Its insane ratio of followers to those you’re allowed to follow stopped me. Much like the dial on a radio—it just wouldn’t go any further. Everything happens for a reason.
I found myself in a world wrapped in noise. The links I saw come through on Seesmic twitter app were the same that I read on Facebook. The same on Friendfeed. And, some even on LinkedIn. Distributed redundancy rules. It’s what makes social media great. It’s what makes it bad.
So, I stopped listening. Stopped clicking on links. Paid more attention to photos of celebration and new experiences from my friends on my Facebook. And more importantly, I turned the computer off in the mornings and enjoy coffee with my wife. I turned off my computer at night and enjoy a disconnected, non-electronic snuggle with my family. Now that’s social!
With so many smart people talking about a topic they’re smart about, what it can do is make you question what ideas are yours. What ideas are theirs. No one owns an idea. I imagine every idea has been thought off at least by someone else before. I’m not MTV or Eric Clapton, but what I learned about my Unplugged experience is that reinvention occurs when you change your frequency.
The fourth thing I learned. You connect better when you’re not always connected. Take a break from the noise. Change your frequency. You’ll find you’re even more connected.