The Sound of Silence: Twelve Hours Without Media

I’ve always thought that I was quite comfortable with the sound of silence – I enjoy time in my own company and often find that my most productive moments are when I am by myself.

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Bigcatgroup.co.uk

I decided that I was going to try a little experiment while I’m still recovering from my hospitalisation last week – I intended to spend just 12 hours with no electronic media whatsoever, the purpose being to examine what life would be like on a more simple level and to discover exactly how comfortable I am with the sound of silence. That meant no TV, phone, music, computer, laptop, iPad, Internet, DVD’s, Blu Rays, cameras, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, Instagram, iTunes, apps, games consoles – instead I would have to find other things to occupy my time. I also set myself a rule that small naps would be permitted, as I often indulge in afternoon naps at the weekends, but sleeping for the majority of the day wouldn’t be allowed. The Bloke would be in with me for a part of the day, but for the restΒ of it he would be off doing other things, so aside from any quick conversations that we would have the majority of the day would be spent in silence. I was going to start at 6.00am and finish at 6.00pm and was quite looking forward to it. It was only going to be for twelve hours… Easy! Right?

Here was my day. Note: there would be photographs accompanying this but as I wasn’t allowed to use my camera I had to use google images post challenge.

6.00am: I woke up in a positive frame of mind and went and injected my diabetic cat. Normally, I would follow this by checking my blog, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and I was surprised by the immediate feeling of loss that washed over me when I realised that I wasn’t allowed to do so. So, what to do instead? TV? Nope, that wasn’t allowed either. I suddenly felt very tired and went back to bed.

8.00am: I got up, had some breakfast, put some washing in, put my clean clothes away and vacuumed the upstairs part of the house.

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Anne Taintor

9.00am: I decided to start the monumental task of sorting out the piles of paperwork and useless junk that have been lying around the house since we moved in. I put all my old bills into a bag for shredding, I collected all my tickets and cards together for my scrapbook, sorted out my bookshelves and piled up all the books I knew I wasn’t going to read again ready to go to the charity shop. I then (finally) unpacked the last two boxes that were left over from the move. I couldn’t believe the sheer amount of pointless crap that I had insisted on packing and bringing with us. I was ruthless – I obviously hadn’t missed the items in those boxes and so I got rid of the lot.

11.00am: The Bloke and I went to the charity shop with the items that we had collected – he insisted on accompanying me just in case I passed out as I am still quite light headed at times. We also called at the bank and deposited the change that I had bagged from around the house – it worked out that we had Β£11.00 lying around, which we used to treat ourselves to some snacks for this evening.

12.00pm: I put another load of washing in and made lunch. I have to admit, by this point I was starting to get a little bored. Normally, my chores would be completed with music playing in the background, and I was growing increasingly frustrated with my own thoughts – my brain started to wander to deadlines at work, or play random snippets from songs on a loop and after a morning of this I found that I was craving the TV, just for something to take my mind off the increasingly negative thoughts I started to have. I had some playtime with the cats, who had spent a lot of the morning following me around (until I got the vacuum cleaner out) and it was quite amusing to see Daisy stalking a rubber mouse on the floor.

12.30pm: I got out the vacuum cleaner again and set to work on downstairs, much to the cats annoyance. I tidied up, organised the side and coffee tables, put more of my washing out and started to get stuck into little jobs that I had been avoiding for a while. I started to get stronger urges to turn the TV on, despite the fact that I knew that there was very little on (daytime TV is shocking in the UK unless you’re into property or antique programmes).

2.00pm: I decided to have a nice hot bath. Normally, I would put on a playlist of relaxing songs, but instead I had to lie in silence, which I didn’t enjoy. I got a book and started to read, realising that it had been six months since I had last done so, and I had forgotten just how much fun it was. A quick glance in the mirror revealed that my eyebrows had grown out so much that they were beginning to take over my face, so after locating my tweezers I managed to sort them out, following this with a long, overdue pedicure.

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Debbie Ridpath Ohi

4.00pm. I was bored. My chores were done, I was too weak to go outside again, I’d had a bath, read some of my book, tidied the house, played with the cats and organised my paperwork. I had started to experience an intense craving to get out my iPad and write something down, and the strangest thing was that it was a similar craving to what I had experienced when I was quitting smoking – it was a physical, intense urge to do something that I knew I shouldn’t be doing. I decided to follow a similar approach to what I did when getting rid of cigarettes (I got an electronic cigarette) – I substituted the iPad with a notebook and a set of greetings cards and I did something that I haven’t done for years – I wrote a letter to my friend. When we were at university my friend and I used to write to each other all the time and I have kept all her cards and letters in a shoebox. It suddenly occurred to me that during my first two years at university I lived in the Halls of Residence without a TV, the Internet, or a computer, and so I used to write her lots of letters to pass the time at weekends when I couldn’t afford to go out. The more I thought about it, the more I remembered how peaceful life was – some of my happiest memories are of sitting in bed on a Sunday morning, reading a book.

As soon as it turned 6.00pm, and I had cooked dinner and sorted out the cats, the first thing that I did was grab my iPad, switch on the TV and start to write. While it was only a short experiment, it has been valuable in that it has allowed to catch up on lots of chores that needed to be finished, reminded me of my love of reading and writing letters, and more importantly, it has taught me a few things about myself.

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Jackieholder.com

1. I am not as comfortable with the sound of silence as I initially thought.Β My brain goes into overdrive when there is nothing to occupy it and has a tendency to visit the darker and more anxious times I have experienced, and I have subconsciously used the sounds of the TV and music to block it out.

2. I still believe that I am comfortable with my own company, but found that this ‘alone’ time is actually spent chatting to people on various social networks and not actually by myself.

I was surprised at how reliant I am on technology for entertainment. So, I am able to take something from this lesson and in the future I am going to take a little bit of time to put everything down, turn everything off and embrace the sound of silence.

What about you guys? Do you ever take the time just to do nothing? Can you cope with the sound of silence?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/the-sound-of-silence/

Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge.

54 thoughts on “The Sound of Silence: Twelve Hours Without Media

  1. I don’t think I could do it….but you know, I think I will give it a try one day soon. Maybe I will start at 6pm-6am…hahaha, considering I go to bed at 9:30 pm.

  2. Sounds like you found ways to be productive on your day without media. I can only imagine how challenging it was, so good for you for making it a whole day. I’m able to spend hours doing nothing and being in silence. I think it’s something that you get used to over time. Eventually, being in silence becomes easier, so long as the silence doesn’t go on for too long.

    Nice response to the writing challenge.

  3. To me it is an important step to shut the TV and all music off so I can concentrate on my blog-writing, Suzie. I feel good in the silence as I think and type. I am comfortable with my thoughts. Thanks for the interesting post.

  4. Excellent article! Last week during the ice storm our cable went out. Since our cable is our television, phone and internet, there was not much I could do. However, I still had my cell phone, but it is not a smart phone at all… it can text and make calls, but that is all. I did not use it much because I was afraid the power would go next, and since it was charged, I needed the charge to stay. The quiet is really deafening until you remember that you once lived happily without all the distractions. I love writing letters… it is a dying art. Thanks for this, and continue to heal… DAF

  5. I dare not go without media and internet. I go inward where the demons of my past grab at me. I plan conversations in my head, I go over things I could do differently.

    The only way to block them all out is to be doing something. I go stir crazy if I have been on my own for even a few hours. I get too restless and have to be out somewhere.

    Good post

  6. I have considered doing this on a day the kid is not at home. I think I could be OK with being unplugged as long as I knew it wasn’t indefinite. Not that I have to be connected all the time, but without these networks and devices I could easily become a recluse.

    So, I guess this means you didn’t get my tweet? πŸ˜‰

  7. Thank you for sharing this! As a college student with responsibilities often attached to my devices, I’ve been struggling to find the time, but I’d like to take a 12 hour break at some point. Even four hours. Sometimes I feel like I’ve forgotten what free time is like, without automatically heading to Facebook.

    -Taylor
    http://tayloryates.wordpress.com

  8. YOU are better than me.
    my mind wanders. I read blogs instead of books.
    After having been sick myself though,when you are too weak to do very much, time does take it toll on you. That ‘cabin fever’ sets in and the dead silence we have forever longed for during hectic times, seems exactly that…dead.
    isnt it funny how accustomed to ‘devices’ we have become.

  9. That’s wonderful that you were able to spend 12 hours in silence. I can do that if I’m off camping or on vacation, but don’t think I’d make 12 hours at home. I’d have to invite a friend and a bottle of wine or two over.

  10. Suzie, You certainly used your quiet time well, so congrats on that. I’m sitting in silence at the moment but am going to turn on some music, probably classical or classic rock.
    And I apologize that I’ve been out of the blogging loop for a bit and didn’t realize you’d had surgery. My best wishes to you on your recovery.
    Shari

  11. You’ve inspired me! I’m going to try this soon…like this weekend! I was thinking Saturday, but I have coffee with a friend, and she’s sure to text me a hundred times before we actually meet up. πŸ˜‰ Sunday it is! πŸ˜€ I can only hope that I manage to be nearly as productive as you were!

  12. Interesting experiment. I am a fan of ‘background noise’ too. I usually have the TV or radio on while I’m cleaning, painting, doing basic chores–I can’t imagine doing those things in silence. I do like to sit on the pool deck in silence, though there are usually birds and squirrels to keep me company!

  13. Hey Suzie,
    First of all, I hope you start feeling better soon. As for your experiment, I think it’s a wonderful idea.

    Since I often spend time in my own company, it is not hard for me to enjoy the sound of silence. I rarely get bored, but that might be because I am an voracious reader…I have been known to pick up a book and read for three to four hours straight before I realize that I was supposed to get something done and put it down (at least, if it is a good book.)

    Something I discovered during a period of time when I went without my laptop (because I had no power) was that I can spend hours staring into space and daydreaming. I came up with an entire world that is now in the process of becoming a novel. Needless to say, I didn’t find myself all that bored. I was too busy creating new characters, coming up with a story and deciding what type of rules would apply to the world that was now stuck in my head.

    After re-reading what I just typed, I can kind-of understand why people have been calling me weird since I was a kid. πŸ™‚

  14. I can’t go very long at all without having my phone in hand, or my laptop. The tv is usually always on, just for noise and voices. It shuts out the thoughts that rattle around in my mind. Glad you enjoyed your 12 hours. You’re a strong willed person!

  15. I’ve started to do this although to a lesser extent. I do one thing at a time so if the radio is on I am listening to it. If the tv is on I am watching something. If I’m on the laptop that’s all I’m doing. It’s made a huge difference to my evenings and I’m enjoying things much more as they are getting my full attention. One of my own forms of mindfulness. I do think though, that I will try your challenge this weekend. Thanks for the inspiration.

  16. It is amazing just how much we all have made ourselves depend on the things that make life less boring, but I see you did some needed things around the flat that needed to be done. I would like to know if you decided to start reading books again and writing long hand with pen and paper to your friend? I hope you will take a day every now and then just to find the happiness in the silence, not 12 hours worth but maybe an hour here and there. I am glad you shared this, I might just have to try it out one of these days.

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  19. Hiya, just to let you know we list Tiger this morning, at 15 years old he just couldn’t fight infection even with massive amounts of antibiotics. Its strange in the house as he was always at my feet looking for a treat. We are not having any more animals its just to hard when they are gone.

  20. I think I actually would’ve gone nuts but you’ve inspired to try it one day so I will… I’m just not sure when 😦 Haha

  21. If you do something like that for over a day, it gets easier. I was so sick of Facebook that I stayed away from it for 2 weeks. I don’t know if people noticed I was gone or not, but I really didn’t care. I found that I wrote in my journal a LOT when I wasn’t on Facebook. It’s something that I like doing, and for some reason, I don’t do it that much when I’m on Facebook. I actually didn’t want to go back to Facebook after the 2 weeks as badly as I thought I would want to… but I did for some reason. I think working has also drastically cut into how much time I spend on there, since I work outside of the house in food service. Still though… I think I’d like to try something like you tried. I don’t know if I’d make it without music, though. I’d have to be out of my house.

  22. I love going to the cathedral sometimes and sit in its chill but beautifully quiet, no cars, no music, not even thè sound of the birds can be heard just the hiss in my ears, the tinnitus, not what I hear but what my brains think it wants to hear, that is the broken only by the hourly bells of the 18th century clock. I count the bell strikes then back to the hiss as the echo of the bells fade. The musty smell a mix of the waxed pine pews, old hymn books, and 11th century stone and cement, I wonder if Godliness has a smell, but if I listen through the hiss maybe I can hear God.

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  27. I’m giggling here!!! Going without media, especially social media, is something I like to do quite often. I think my favourite thing is to leave my cell phone at home when I leave to go on an errand. The freedom is wonderful. It’s not that I get many calls (I don’t), just knowing that it isn’t there is such a relief. I get some time where no one can get a hold of me. No hubby calling and asking, ‘where did I put (insert something ridiculous in here)?’…No teenage son calling and saying, ‘Hey mum, can I borrow 20 bucks?’. and so on and so forth.

    Actually, just thinking about it makes me want to have another day of silence.

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  29. I wonder whether it would help to do it regularly. I tend to be quite uncomfortable most days and I distract myself with technology. I am definitely going to try it at least once some time soon to see how I cope.

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