Our next door neighbors are getting their back yard landscaped. As one might expect, it is quite an ordeal. For more than a week, a crew has worked tirelessly to install a luscious green lawn in a space that was once just a mound of dirt. This transformation has required manpower, machinery, supplies, and a lot of hard work. It definitely isn’t a silent process.
As someone who works primarily from home, I am performing the bulk of my daily work when the contractors are doing theirs. This has resulted in a struggle to block out the inevitable noise that a landscaping project will produce. At times I have found myself becoming unfocused. However, if I can acknowledge the reality of the situation next door but commit myself to my professional task at hand, I am usually successful at ignoring the lawn development orchestra.
But it isn’t just a next door project that produces distracting noise. We are tempted and diverted by the noise of a media-obsessed culture, most of it manifested in a digital space, on a daily basis. Take any topic in the news these days and chances are good that you are bombarded with constant analysis, hot takes, angles, and talking heads. With the depth of content available and the sophisticated targeting tools of social media platforms, it is so easy to be sucked in.
For example, I am a big college football fan. On a daily basis, I am served numerous clickbait articles about coaching changes, conference realignment, and predictions for the 2022 season. So many of these pieces are badly written with little substance but I still find myself tapping the link. The website gets its click and I devote a couple minutes of my time, eventually leaving the site no more enlightened than when I entered. Noise!
It is no secret that we are living in a very contentious time. There are crucial social topics that are top of mind for many people. Because of 24/7 cable news stations, satellite radio, social media, and other digital inventions, how can’t these topics remain top of mind? There is just seemingly nowhere to retreat from the constant cacophony.
But like with the landscaping project, sometimes when it feels like there is no escaping, we need to use our own mental devices to block out the noise. We need to set boundaries for ourselves and have the mental discipline to not allow ourselves to become prisoner to the constant metaphorical signs with messages that exclaim “Click Me.” It isn’t always easy, but if we are aware and committed, we can find refuge. Don’t Blink.