‘The Quality of Silence’ – book review

A good book can be summarised in one sentence – Rosamund Luption’s ‘The Quality of Silence’ is very good. It concludes with its summary:

I can feel my fingers again and I have a voice.

I wish I had a little bit more time to read but at the moment I make really poor choices when it comes to my free time and so I read only in desperation and huge guilt. So I grabbed this book when visiting one of our local libraries simply to kill the feeling of despair (‘I really must read something now!’). I did not expect this story to be so relevant to my life and work though, so I am still recovering from its astonishing relevance.

It’s a well written story of a family at the verge of collapse with three main characters (mum, dad, daughter) isolated in their own way of living and in their own boundaries. I know that mother’s relationship with daughter is never easy so this plot was quite known to me. So was the cold and fear of lonely hours of driving through snow and wind in Alaska to find their dad. So was the idea of dangers related to oil drilling. But I did not expect the technology to play such powerful role in the little girls childhood and this particular ‘adventure’ and I really like that it was woven into the plot so smoothly that it almost goes unnoticed.

This time I am not going to tell you what I mean – you really need to read the book to understand. All I can say is that I am extremely happy to see the conclusion of the book presented so easily, so obviously when on a daily basis I talk to people and work with people who do not understand the power of social media for voicing our opinions, finding a way out of loneliness and solitude or simply for finding someone who truly listens.

You see, people who are the closest to us sometimes simply do not stop and ask questions. Many make their own judgements.

While on the social web we get to put our thoughts and feelings out there in front of millions of people – many of whom read, listen, care, ask, respond, wait for you to explain, learn to discuss and share. It feels more right than the sharp, blunt and often boring reality – because it is equally really and more functional. On the social web we connect with similarly people. In the real offline world we bump into so many people who are almost incompatible, distant or simply unengaged. In the real world what we want to say comes out wrong and we simply hurt others. Sometimes our problems are not the issues we talk about but how we share them, and this becomes so much clearer when we do it online because we have to frame the context, explain the meaning and position it in the right way in front of our friends. Offline world communication is a bit dysfunctional from that point of view. We feel awkward, so uneasy to just sit and talk:

So on a day when many panic about their hacked LinkedIn accounts and consider leaving their social media presences, I celebrate the social web. Because they give us voice we never had before, never in the history of human communication. We should celebrate it and use it well, if possible take our learnings offline too.


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