Janet Hoffman -1- Sociology July 10, 2000 SILENT VOICE When I read the chapter on The De-Voicing of Society, I have to say that I was not surprised. I saw this coming back in the 1960s. But I never really believed that as we grew and evolved that it would escalate to the point where people would become obsolete in many areas. Certainly we have advanced greatly in technology, but I think that we may have gone to far. People must never be replaced by machines.
I have always had a voice,but just didnt use it when at critical periods of my life. I advocate free speech at every turn. Machines should enhance it, but certainty not replace our right to use our collective voices. If we can advance in technology, then we must advance as humans right along with it, and not allow ourselves to be a faceless, voiceless being. We must never ever depersonalize ourselves from society.
In recent times, and using my own experience , I can now look back and understand just how isolated one can become when one is locked away in a cubicle or a room for years at a time, using only a television or radio as a source of human voice. Or using a phone for that much needed contact. My reaction to our silenced voices it that of genuine concern.Every human being needs personal contact. We are not meant to live a life of isolation. I suppose if we choose to do that on our own accord, while not healthy, it is our choice. However, when technology gets to the point where we are being replaced by machines, then I for one have a problem with it.
If I had to equate a silent voice, then I would start with my own life. The last two years of my marriage, I had totally isolated myself from any human source. Not because I wanted to, but because it was a means to survive. I was so isolated. The only voices I heard was from the television or the radio and sometimes the phone.
Sometimes calling an eight hundred number just to hear another living breathing person. It was during this time, that I purchased a computer. Which ultimately became my life line. While I could not hear the voice of those I chatted with, there came a time when I for some unexplainable reason became very close to someone, and would actually reach out and touch the computer screen at the same time he did. Neither of us know what it would` serve, but both of us knew that our isolation had to end. We both realized the need for human contact.
Conversation, laughter. I might have gone on to look back at this and laugh and think how stupid how naive we both were. But that never happened. Our isolation from humans came to us because we had been hurt by others. Yet both of us were still human and both very vulnerable.
Today we are both very dear friends, and we often remind each other that via this media, it showed us that even through the written word we could communicate, but we needed to hear the voice of another. We both recognized the world had changed so much. Writing then became paramount to me. It enabled me to see things that perhaps I never would have before. The Internet was a God send for me, and a definite life line to so many others that I have since gotten to know and have helped.
Today all of us have moved beyond that time in our lives, and none of us is isolated at least from ourselves. We vowed to be vocal and not be silenced for any reason. Through my experience with this, I have come to know and understand that while we have advanced in so many areas from the time we were babies, we have lost the all important thing. Togetherness. I dont need to live in anyones pocket and surely there comes a time when we want our quiet moments to reflect, yet I will always want to hear a voice.
I wont let a day go by without expression of my thoughts. Making the decision to return to school, has enabled me to talk aloud everyday. While I may not be right in my assessment of things, it is my right to voice my opinion to other human beings. The inner part of me has always been the voice of reason. It took me years to understand that I needed to express myself with my “voice” not just with pen and paper or keyboard to keyboard. I remember growing up knowing all of my neighbors. Going on picnics or to a fair and running into people I knew, no matter where I went. Always engaging in conversation, not matter how trite it might have been at a young age.
Even then we had the instinctive need and desire to communicate. I think that when one advances into a new time, with new things to try out, we become intrigued with the things that went on to change the course of the world. Everything seems so simple now. When in fact I think that given the things we have, like radios, televisions, answering machines, computers, we get so caught up by them, that we have lost the all important meaning of true verbal communication. When they come up with computerized sex, and I dont mean in the world of cyber space, then I will know that we have reversed our advancement to total isolation.
We may as well be clones if we are to be isolated from society, even our friends and family. It is really scary to know that one can sit in front of a computer screen for hours and chat with someone, yet not hear a voice for hours on end. We have virtually every piece of equipment that enables us to communicate without using our voice. It is no small wonder that some children today begin to speak at a later age. They can hear the voices on the television.
And in so many homes today, the television is a comfort zone and company. It enables us to listen freely, but not to talk back with anyone. Is this healthy? Our thoughts now are easily reduced to writing or faxing. It just is not healthy for us to go day by day without human interaction and voice. I am guilty of calling eight hundred numbers just to hear a voice.
That in and of itself is frightening. It is not that easy to do now, because rarely do real people answer the phone. Most people, because they dont have to confront someone, can say whatever they want via a computer, yet they might not be able to do that face to face. That is not what we as human beings are all about. When in the course of human nature, we are suppose to reach out and touch a life, lift up a spirit, give comfort with our words of wisdom. I have wondered if email one day might cause the United States Postal System to become obsolete? I remember waking up as a child knowing right from wrong.
Knowing where I stood and knowing that there was that line you never crossed, or the morals or values that we would never betray. When we look around today, do we see those people we knew all our lives? Have we advanced so much in technology that we lost sight of all that we hold dear? I dont want to give off the impression that I know all the answers when in truth I am not ever close. I dont wish to give a false impression that I am confident and secure with the things that we have before us, knowing that with the De-Voicing of America, we have lost not just our voices, but humanization. We must never loose site of the traditions we were raised on. we must never loose site of the fact that we our human and we need human contact on a regular basis.
There is a passage that I find comforting and makes sense to me. If One Advances Confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined he will meet with a Success unexpected in common hours If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; now put the foundations under them. Henry David Thoreau.