thoughtwisps One commit at a time

the quiet

I come home, open up my laptop, log into Twitter and let my eyes tap into the simultaneous titbits of chatter from hundreds of people I follow. It is quiet in my apartment. A lukewarm silence briefly punctured by signals from a Thames Clipper ferrying tired commuters from the piers of Tower Bridge to Greenwich and onwards or an ambulance siren hurtling to some scene of tragedy. The controlled chaos of the city is subsiding into a calm lull of the evening.

It is quiet in the space, the street, the house, my room but it is a cacophony inside my mind. There are thoughts, words, sarcastic quips and angry retorts, distilled into a 140 character essence chattering about. Usually, when I am quiet, it is my thoughts that take tangible form and sift through the day’s experiences, replaying and reliving, molding and transforming into long term memories to be stored and re-narrated at convenient times.

There is no place for carefully crafted thought in the brain that is busy ingesting as much as it can from the delicious stream of fast food infocalories. There is always more. More tweets to read, more likes to administer, maybe even a retweet every now and then. A notification appears and triggers a cascade of pleasure. This is good, something says. Very good. You are. You exist. You exist in the eye of thousands of other semi-strangers who are to consuming this feed. You exist in someone’s eyes. Maybe that gives you some kind of legitimacy or consolation. An illusion of being seen, heard and understood. For sure, the most terrifying thing is not to be alone, but to know it.

I tweet, therefore I am?

I used to eat my feelings. Physically dampen down the chorus of anxiety by flooding the mind with pleasures of cakes and cookies.

A food-junkie’s addiction to the soothing waves of sugar is not unlike our addiction to a constant stream of information. We drown our thoughts with the voices of others, uttering half-formed sentences and ideas until all the mind has to do is become some kind of rating machine, dispensing likes and retweets with Pavlovian efficiency.

Anodyne. Anodyne is the word I am searching for. When you can fill yourself with the words of others, you are absolved. Absolved, relieved, released from the responsibility of living with yourself. It is a temporary pleasure, a temporary relief that turns into something sinister. Where will the narrative of the self come from if not from thoughts and memories shaped in the quiet spaces?