(p. D5) The benefits of silence are off the books. They are not measured in the gross domestic product, yet the availability of silence surely contributes to creativity and innovation. They do not show up explicitly in social statistics such as level of educational achievement, yet one consumes a great deal of silence in the course of becoming educated.
. . .
Or do we? Silence is now offered as a luxury good. In the business-class lounge at Charles de Gaulle Airport, I heard only the occasional tinkling of a spoon against china. I saw no advertisements on the walls. This silence, more than any other feature, is what makes it feel genuinely luxurious. When you step inside and the automatic doors whoosh shut behind you, the difference is nearly tactile, like slipping out of haircloth into satin. Your brow unfurrows, your neck muscles relax; after 20 minutes you no longer feel exhausted.
Outside, in the peon section, is the usual airport cacophony. . . .
. . .
To engage in inventive thinking during those idle hours spent at an airport requires silence.
. . .
I think we need to sharpen the conceptually murky right to privacy by supplementing it with a right not to be addressed. This would apply not, of course, to those who address me face to face as individuals, but to those who never show their faces, and treat my mind as a resource to be harvested.
For the full commentary, see:
MATTHEW B. CRAWFORD. “OPINION; The Cost of Paying Attention.” The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., MARCH 8, 2015): 5.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date MARCH 7, 2015.)
The commentary quoted above is related to the author’s book:
Crawford, Matthew B. The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.