Friday Firesmith – Silence and Darkness

Last night, as I lay in bed not sleeping, it occurred to me that at any given moment of my life, it would take a few seconds to contact someone else. This might be someone I knew or someone I was merely connected to on the internet, just as you and I might be, and at any given moment I could change the lighting in my room by contacting someone else on the internet.

There are fewer and fewer people who have lived most of their lives with these conditions as a new thing and more and more people who have had this as a preexisting condition in their lives. 

I lived for many years without a television or a telephone and the people I knew thought this slightly odd, but the generation before me were not fully invested in either device.

Books were once my sole companions in life, those shadow creatures that never left my side, and populated my world with names and personalities and events. I had a reading lamp that I kept for years and it never failed me until it fell off its place on the headboard, and crashed onto the floor. Whatever it was that broke inside of it killed it, and it was odd shopping for a lamp. There were smaller, lighter, LED lit, and cheap. No personality at all, mind you, but the one I bought is still around and still works.

What year it was, I cannot remember, but I remember consciously making the decision to begin a migration away from human activity. My writing had begun to absorb more of my time, and as such, I drank less, and read more. Both reading and writing require that human interaction be reduced, and my lifeboat was created out of twenty-six letters, rearranged various combinations, very much like the ones you are reading now. Thanks, by the way. I don’t say that often enough.

Here’s the question I have for you at this point in time; has social media made you less social? Or has the ability to interact on demand created friends in your life that you would have never met otherwise?

In Dog Rescue, social media could not be replaced easily if at all. It’s a tool that’s invaluable and heavily leaned upon every day in ways that most people never considered. Social media gives people within the group opportunities to cross post lost dogs and found dogs so that wners are found, sometimes, within minutes.

But as I lay in bed, with the cell phone and the laptop shut down for the night, and the router unplugged, there was a stillness, and a darkness, that I realized that I missed in life. Very rarely does anyone simply sit and absorb the energy of the universe anymore, in a porch swing or on a stump in the woods. Gone are the days of reinforced solitude, and total darkness, or even the accidental kind, and I wonder, truly wonder, if there’s a generation coming up that will rebel against this connectivity that we have created out of thin air and hotspots.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

27 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Silence and Darkness”

  1. Being a natural introvert, I enjoy my solitude and I am not a big fan of social events. In fact I will figure out a way to get out of them. If I can’t, I make my obligatory appearance and will leave at the earliest time.

    A couple of reasons I am this way – 1. I grew up in a small town(100 kids in the whole high school) and everyone knew everyone’s business. So the easiest way to avoid being next weeks gossip session was to avoid people. 2. My mom could talk on the phone for hours (yes even in a small town) and I swear she invented speed dialing. As I would hear portions of the conversation, it just seemed like useless information and I couldn’t understand the logic of passing on useless information.

    For me personally, the day I can chuck my cell phone, credit cards and, yes, even some people – and enjoy the serenity that will come with it, well it can’t get here soon enough.

    Hey, that is just me and who I am.

    • Fatpuppy may be the identical twin I didn’t know I had. Being the old arrogant a$$hole introvert that “I” am, the internet is the best way for me to connect with other people. I don’t have to interact with them when I don’t want to, they don’t borrow stuff from me and not bring it back, and when they died I don’t feel obligated to go to their funeral. Win,Win!

    • Fatpup, it sounds like you and I might have grown up in the same town. I wonder if small town folk tend towards introvert behavior? It would seem that city people would be lonelier, to me.

  2. When social media was introduced, my life went from an extremely intimate and strong friendship/bond with about 15 people I interacted with daily, to a casual relationship with 120 people over virtual media, and I almost never see any of them. I’m down to three people in my real circle – my face to face interactions.

    I hate it. I’d return to the 80s or 90s in a heartbeat. And avoiding social media did nothing to restore my close relationships, but it did break about 100 of those ‘casual virtual-only” relationships.

    • Deo, I never had that many people I was close to and social media hasn’t hurt me at all when it comes right down to it. But I unloaded a washing machine by myself today and realized it would have been good to have called someone beforehand who might’ve been able to help. I wonder what I will be like in a few years when I retire.

  3. The internet has been a savior for me. Old and going deaf makes it hard to interact with people in person or on the phone but I have no problem communicating on-line.
    My local purchasing choices are quite limited because I live in the country far from any city but I can get anything I need or want online.
    The internet has given me a no-hassle connection to the world. For me the on-line lack of personal interaction isn’t important.

    • Jim, I have hearing problems too and I’ve thought strongly about getting hearing aids. Do you think if people like us had better hearing we would be more social?

      • I have state-of-the-art hearing aids and they help but have very limited benefit. The problem is the little hairs (cilia) break off and the frequency they are tuned to is lost forever and no hearing aid can correct that.
        Mike, as I get older I become less and less inclined to “suffer the fools”. I suspect I’m part of the problem but I just don’t give a xxxx.

  4. For me, the internet is both a life-consuming crutch and exposure to lots of weird and wonderful things I may have never encountered otherwise. Education, alternate perspectives, beautiful (and ugly) and fascinating things. As for a fun fact, I don’t read all that much outside of webpages — not even e-books — and even the growing ubiquity of cell phones in my teenage years didn’t lead me to depend on them.

    Thankfully, social media is not a very big part of any of that either, mainly because I realized fairly early on that it’s a very messed-up echo chamber that encourages folks to organize themselves into enclaves and cliques where they endlessly reinforce their already deeply-engrained beliefs — ultimately pointless at best, but perhaps incredibly dangerous for the more unhinged or inherently-judgemental.

    Though I grew up in suburban New England and now reside in suburban Texas, I also managed to cultivate and largely preserve a deep appreciation for natural things. I did after all, manage to grow up with parents who — not out of negligence but out of acceptance that kids learn best through exploration and play — let me and my sibling roam the neighborhood playing in the woods, climbing trees, catching bugs and frogs and scraping our knees riding our bikes without helmets. Hell, I even taught myself to pretty reliably identify birds thanks to my father and grandfather’s amateur interest and repeatedly poring over their field guides.

    It’s no wonder then that roaming the modest back yard that I share with my parents feels natural, either watching the family pets explore, appreciating the green and bloom and suburban wildlife around me or throwing my morning coffee grounds on whatever plant looks like it needs the most help growing. It’s a welcome and soothing pasttime and break — even as the ubiquitous A/C units in and around the neighborhood start their ever-present din.

  5. Social media has done both for me I think. I’ve “met” friends I would never have met, both here and on the book of faces, but I have become a hermit. I’ve always enjoyed my solitude though. There have been times in my life where I have just gone away for two or three days at a time. If my ex had visitation and I could manage it, I would pack up my fishing stuff and go. I used to go fishing by myself, now it’s almost unsafe to do so.

  6. I’m pretty sure it didn’t reach Georgia, but back in the summer of 2003 there was a blackout that affected millions of people in the NE, in both the US and Canada. It went on for days.
    I can honestly say that it remains my very favorite time. While it was scary in some ways, there was no hydro for emergencies, no refrigeration and no water to drink due to lack of water treatment, but the peace and quiet was wonderful. One could see the stars, listen to the crickets, hear the birds, and people were actually outside, sitting on their porch or going for walks. It reminded me of my childhood at the cottage where there was no TV or even streetlights.
    I have never been a TV watcher, but I’m a big reader, including on my computer. I hate talking on the phone and also have hearing issues. Hearing aides are helpful, but it’s still not the same. Email is my go-to. That way I know I understand what is being communicated and I can revamp my response as many times as I want 🙂
    I only have two close friends and a few more on-line ones, but mostly I keep to my own home and family. I guess the older we get, we do become somewhat of a hermit – at least some of us do.

    • Lady Di,

      Mostly, out here in Hickory Head, I can see stars at night and I’ve had rare company who came in from other places and they’re stunned. A couple from Atlanta came to visit many years ago and we sat in the yard and they were speechless. It’s odd how all that light has blinded us.

  7. I wish I had an answer to all the light pollution. It does quite annoy me in many ways, as so much of it is unnecessary and simply messes up Nature and all it’s creatures (including us).
    However, at other times, if I’m walking, as I pass friendly woods and neighbors’ backyards, sometimes they don’t seem so friendly in the dark, and I get a little concerned. At those times, here in the suburbs, I can appreciate the value of a streetlamp or two!
    I keep hoping there will be some focus on how much artificial illumination is needed. A huge box store in town keeps every single light and all their parking lot lights on 24/7. That is ridiculous. The office towers in the city turn off most of their lights for Earth Hour but have them all on the rest of the year. Any logic to that? In the meantime, I long for a nice dark and quiet night, a view of the stars and the sound of the crickets. Heaven!
    [p.s.: Lady Di? Are you trying to flatter me? LOL!! Thanks :-D]

    • There are resorts in Florida that keep much fewer lights on at night than there was when I was a kid, so there is some change, Di. I hope the idea spreads but it hasn’t yet.

  8. Well, I for one enjoy a truly dark night sky and I’ll even drag out a telescope to look at objects in the sky. Light pollution is very bad and getting much worse especially where I live. I see a new housing construction and I am wondering how much more will we (the original natives) put up with. Growth cost one city its mayor last year.

    You want information on how to combat the lights look here:

    Saturday is International Astronomy Day and if you are so inclined find an event near you to participate in. As Jack Horkheimer said “Keep Looking Up.”

  9. Going by comments above, I agree, the bliss of solitude has a lot to do with being older. At 70 plus, retired, and been most of there and done most of that, home sweet home has taken on a whole timely new meaning.

    I enjoy seeing family, school hols here at present and we had two grandkids here for 5 days. Whilst the liveliness is mostly enjoyable, after driving 200 km and delivering them back to their owners, the peace and quiet on our return was most welcoming.

    I have a few close friends, but our get togethers are planned, just the way I like it.

    Down here in country SW of Western Australia, I love to sit beneath the Southern Cross, out on the deck on a hot summers night and stargaze. More often than not spot satellites as they move in a kind of jerking way through the sky. A couple of years ago I saw a rather bright one, it wasn’t jerking but moving at a steady even pace…Checking on the NASA site, it was the ISS…further investigation gave details of where and when in the world it can be spotted. We are not alone.

    I love the internet, social media not so much, but on blogs such as this B & P, and Miss Cellania, the links have opened up a whole lot of knowledge I never would have dreamed of looking up.

    Cheers to Jonco and Friday Firesmith.


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