I’m lucky! For as long I can remember, I’ve been passionate about music and sound. To focus my attention and immerse myself into music has been both an effortless and joyful experience for my entire lifetime. As a kid, I thought it would be fun to not only listen to music but to play music, leading to an early career path with a recording contract as both a vocalist and a saxophone player. The world of entertainment was my favorite playground and a place of both pleasure and promise in spite of the naysayers in the surrounding circles of influence…especially those closest to me, in my family circle.
Somewhere along this path, I thought it might be important to follow some family advice, and create a backup strategy, leading to a Ph.D. in developmental and educational psychology and a “minor” in Innertainment. Why not combine my passion with purpose, deepen my understanding of media psychology, and explore the possibilities for a new paradigm of change through the arts and entertainment? Fast forward to today, an accelerating world of digital immersion, A.I., virtual reality, social media, algorithms, convergence, intangibles, new tools and new rules. Wow, what a ride, and with it a whole immersive level of silent sound and seduction, the new NOISE…distraction, distortion, disruption, disinformation and overload.
I should have seen it coming, because along the way, I came across the profoundly insightful writings of Neil Postman. This stuck to me like Gorilla Glue, especially his 1985 speculations of what was to come in Amusing Ourselves To Death. Postman asked the BIG questions about technology and media. How will we be seduced by media and tech? What will be our new learned limitations? How will democracy be impacted? Will our leaders become less accountable and disconnected from reality? What will happen to privacy? Will we swap individualization for personalization? Will consumerism and pleasure disrupt responsibility and effort? What will the new TRADEOFFS be? Will we sacrifice our awareness, abilitiy and control? Who will understand the true underlying foundations for good choices?
Postman got it 100% correct. We’re living now in the “new” age of NOISE. Not the same noise that I grew up with as a musician, but a completely different set of intangible seductions. This is the new norm. The sound of the new noise is silence. It happens under the radar, suspended over time, and it’s propagated by the power partners that profit from our unconscious tradeoffs, blindspots and increasing levels of immersion.
This unfolding series of blog posts will tackle the critical questions related to the “new” NOISE. What’s really going on? What does the research show? How can we prepare and protect our choice making skills?
Stayed tuned to learn how to LIVE ABOVE THE NOISE.
Rob Reiher, Ph.D.