The Conscious Ape

The Death of Silence


There is a ubiquitous mindset that praises the appeal of living a rustic life of a farmer from the times of yore or a hunter-gatherer tribesman amongst modern humans. Living the type of life unobstructed by current technological progress impediments. This foolish sentiment is based on the fact that we look at that kind of life in a vacuum of ignoring the harsh realities of our past like the constant need for survival in a brutal world of “might makes right“, and extolling the virtues of our history in the most idiotic of ways. Yet, some crucial segments of that kind of life have been lost; one and probably the most important is the quiet time, the time of being by yourself and in total silence that is breached only by the susurration of nature surrounding you.

Modern humans live in conjunction with noise in many forms; music, podcasts, small-talk with others, tv or youtube in the background, loud explosions on construction sites, etc. It is the daily self-imposed struggle of a human being to escape from silence. We strive to completely kill the quiet time. Because it is during the quiet time when the inner noise starts, we stop and listen to ourselves, and the tumultuous symphony of anxiety commences in all its cacophonous glory.

Nothing engenders restlessness and that under the skin-crawling feeling of being left alone in silence. The clickety-clack chatter of inner demons follows us everywhere, humming and buzzing in the background whilst the everyday noises of modern life are in the foreground, yet once that noise stops, that humming and buzzing turn into a sonorous inferno of mental suffering.

Nonetheless, that quiet time is of grave import; a person that cannot disconnect from the world and constant influx of information is poised to suffer on the wheel of horrible self-administered torture. After all, you need quiet time to unwind and relax, yet you cannot relax because you are trained in the most Pavlovian way that when the quiet time begins, the mind turns to eleven, and you need to put some music on or partake in some other manner of distraction, a magic circle that seems unbreakable.

It is said that a mark of a truly strong person is when they are entirely comfortable in solipsistic silence, when you can meditate for hours or simply be by yourself without any external stimuli or a watch to keep time, in essence living the life of a taciturn monk. Modern life’s speed and taxing burden of mundane tasks have obliterated our capacity or any possibility of living that solipsistic introspective life. One phrase that succinctly describes the tribulation of modern life is “I’ll rest when I am dead” on a surface level; this “rise and grind till you make it” platitude is a perfect example of mental brutalisation of ourselves, no rest for the wicked mind.

Search for silence in modern life is an arduous task; wherever we turn, we find “respite” from it. Our technological progress has made it so easy to never have any silence until we go to bed and try to acquaint ourselves with Morpheus. From gadgets and media-consuming devices to AI-driven social media platforms designed to capture all of our attention, we have so many avenues to get lost in, some of them willing, others addictive to the point of a mental breakdown.

Sleep, that last hold of silence, the last bastion between us and the tempestuous squall of our daily lives. Only, before we can placidly fall into the arcadia of dreams, in those minuscule moments before sleep, is precisely the time when it all falls apart for us; it’s when your mind goes into a frenzied overdrive and starts compulsively drawing you into the mire of your thoughts that you have so effectively ignored for the whole day.


This way of life is unsustainable; modern life as we know it has existed for the last hundred or some years. With ever faster cycles of progress and striving for more and more technological immersion, we have brought ourselves to the brink of societal mental breakdown. Our collective soul/consciousness is poisoned, dying and suppurating under the burden of separation from silence and the possibility of quiet, peaceful rest.

So what is the solution? Going back to primal beginnings is not the answer because that would simply exchange the problem of inner strife with the outer strife of survival in a barbaric environment. Willing change of habits and self-discipline seems like the only solution, from a single unit of yourself to a wider berth of local “tribe” of friends to the congregation, city and so on. We have to, in a way, “return to monkee“, at least in some manner, for at least an hour or two a day, or maybe a prolonged retreat to a simpler environment with the lesser intrusion of stimuli. A goal that is easy to set yet challenging to implement in this age where everyone expects from you an immediate answer to a message or call, in this overbearing deluge of information that utterly saturates our pool of information, but a goal worthy of pursuing, if for nothing else then for mental clarity and stability. We need a rebirth of silence for our collective soul to heal and mend before we as a species finally succumb to self-destruction.