Is the noise too loud?

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AR Samson

Fence Sitter

There was a time not too long ago when expletives issuing from certain high places used to “shake our nerves and rattle our brains” almost to the point of telling someone at the top of the food chain to please keep the noise down.

Is it possible that political noise can be soothing after a while?

Noise can be taken as a sign of life.

In a party, rowdy laughter, loud conversations, or a group breaking into song (we stand on a hill) indicate delight in each other’s company (how about that one-point win?), even if neighbors may find it irritating. What can be more worrying for a host than a party where the only noise is the buzzing of mosquitoes and the mastication of food? (How’s the pork rind?)

Publicly expressed dissatisfaction with politicians, including their attempts to fill up un-vacated positions and release of dubious statistics, is attacked by trolls with government positions. (These are just her personal opinions.)

“Political noise” is routinely treated with the same degree of irritation accorded to misbehaving children distracting adults from carrying on a serious conversation. Such characterization considers noise as just part of the ambience.

Timing of any public condemnation (just before a survey period) is considered suspicious, as if bad news of any kind should wait for the right time, if that is possible. The source of attacks (or who benefits from them) is hinted at to imply deviousness, though not the invalidity, of any criticism. The critics are even color-coded, yellow being the most common source of bile, which in fact happens to be a little greener.

Political noise seems to refer only to negative clatter. Loud shows of support from certain organized groups, while perhaps even more irrelevant, are not considered real noise, no matter how loud. Raucous endorsements are more acceptable than quiet nagging.

Making noises is a healthy coping mechanism for stress.

Anyone teetering on the verge of road rage understands that shouting and screaming at an offending motorist who cuts you or drives towards you in a counter-flow are healthier options when done inside the car with the windows closed than outside by actually stopping and stepping out to physically accost the offender. The latter option of actual confrontation can result in the use of weapons. Letting off steam noisily and privately is a more acceptable substitute for violent alternatives. Of course, rants can be aggravating for fellow passengers who get stressed themselves.

Coffee shop talk on the state of the nation does not really distract from attending to regular functions like eating out and buying stocks. The multitasking Filipino can sound off and then attend to his business e-mail afterwards. The verbal rattling improves his disposition.

Is political noise no longer noticeable like airplane takeoffs and landings for people living beside the airport? The economy no longer seems to require silence or a chorus of voices singing praises to carry on with moving the economy with infra plans and tax reform. Noise has become acoustic wallpaper that we are getting accustomed to, like soothing sounds of crickets and swaying bamboos in the wind at the dentist’s office. Of course, the drilling of a cavity can be both noisy and painful.

Dissenting voices and the organized trolls that attack them can seem to signal volatility that turns off investors. Noise is irritating only when it persists in its strident tone and embraces a single fixation. A low hum of conflicting ideas is manageable. It helps if the topics of controversy change now and then.

Voices which are raised to promote a healthy business environment and welcome investments can be enhanced. The law of relevance still applies. Nonsense and a determination to oppose anything coming from a particular place can be disruptive, if it isn’t already boring and repetitive.

What can be more invigorating than the noise of political debate and verbal clashes? It is more welcome than the stillness of corpses after a massacre with only the growl of a backhoe’s engine to break the silence. When everything is subdued, and everybody seems to be singing in a chorus, it may be time to open the windows… and welcome back the noise.


A. R. Samson is chair and CEO of Touch DDB.