Searching for solitude


We live in an era of the abundance of information, disinformation, and echo chambers where “people select their own reality by deliberately avoiding information that threatens their happiness and wellbeing.”

The main reason I stopped using Twitter was that it hijacked my focus, made me think in 140 characters which is a beautiful constriction but also one bereft of context. Twitter also made me feel trapped in a room of sameness, where people agreed with each other and sang each other’s hosannas. In the search for silence and deeper thinking, I had to remove myself from contributing to the noise.

Says co-authors Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz in a recent HBR article: searching for silence in the era of distraction is more important than ever.

Cultivating silence, as Hal Gregersen writes in a recent HBR article, “increase[s] your chances of encountering novel ideas and information and discerning weak signals.” When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda—what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next—it’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found.

Perhaps I was short-sighted in arguing a few years ago that we should produce as much as we consume. We snack in excess and therefore feel compelled to create/reshare in abundance. Perhaps more significant is saying and doing nothing with our time.

It is in boredom we find ourselves and originate our own private thoughts.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.