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The Online Student Newspaper of Central Bucks High School South

Titan Tribune

The Online Student Newspaper of Central Bucks High School South

Titan Tribune

The Online Student Newspaper of Central Bucks High School South

Titan Tribune

In Defense of Quiet

In Defense of Quiet

As horns honked, engines roared, and people shouted to their friends, I released my backpack full of lead and collapsed into the passenger seat of my car. It was what every student fears daily: the never-ending traffic jam that is the school parking lot. One entrance, one exit, one extremely long line of cars, and absolutely no mercy. And after finishing my draining test the last block, I just couldn’t deal with anything (or anyone) like that.

Yet as surely as the blasting horns in the parking lot, the routine barrage of questions ensued from my sister in the driver’s seat. “How was the test?”




“How was the rest of your day?”


“Also exhausting.”


The cycle continued, until she finally realized I was tired and gave me the time to relax I had been looking for. I felt grateful that she understood me in a time where I couldn’t verbalize what I felt, and without taking any offense decided to give me some space. Or so I thought.

The next question that hit rocked me: “Are you mad at me or something?” I felt like I had taken a Mike Tyson uppercut to the jaw. In my mind, she hadn’t done anything remotely wrong to make her feel like she had done something to upset me, and I hadn’t reacted in an angered way. I realize I may have seemed antisocial, but keep in mind this is my twin sister, my closest companion for the past seventeen years. By this point, I wouldn’t think I’d have to put on the illusion that I’m what is traditionally considered to be talkative (Spoiler alert, I’m not even close).

The more I thought about this, the more it bothered me—by staying silent, I was being perceived as hostile, regardless of what my intentions were. I thought she knew me well enough to know otherwise. As I continued to grapple with this, I realized the issue lies with our society at large; those who rise to the top are the people-pleasers, the extroverts, the social butterflies. The politicians, the celebrities, and the stars of our culture have all gotten there by being outgoing and loud. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. There’s no blame going on—that’s just what their personalities are. I can’t discredit them for being their true selves.

But amid the loudness of the extroverts, the world sometimes fails to remember the quieter other side. After all, how could it? It’s not like we always make our presence known. And so, it is time to reframe the way we look at silence. Sure, it can be antisocial, or have passive-aggressive intent behind it, but being quiet is not exclusively synonymous with giving the silent treatment. Sometimes, it’s just an indicator of the need to recharge for a bit. It’s okay to take some time for yourself, away from the bustling, hectic world of others, because that may just be who you are. Not feeling the need to fill every silence is not a show of discontent, but of being content, and comfortable, and separated from the need to project someone you are not.



I get the unescapable stigma that surrounds silence. Humans are social creatures, after all—we’re designed to socialize. Matthew Lieberman, a UCLA professor of neuroscience, says that for the brain connecting socially with others “is as basic as our need for food, water, and shelter.” I’m not saying you should go isolate yourself in your basement, shunning all human interaction like some Howard Hughes-esque hermit. I wouldn’t even go for that, and I’m the one championing quiet here. It would be illogical and unhealthy to avoid socializing. It’s obvious that you need social interaction to survive, but to thrive, you still need some quiet time.

Quiet time, at the most basic level, serves as a reset function for our brains. It’s just like a computer; when you’re experiencing a problem, what’s the automatic first course of action? Restart, of course. And surely enough, it fixes whatever problem your computer was having. Quiet time is the brain’s restart button.

Research has shown that during quiet time, we are using a different part of the nervous system, which, according to the Cleveland Clinic, “helps shut down our bodies’ physical response to stress.” When our brains—the body’s computer—become overwhelmed, we need to restart, or have quiet time, to give them a chance to mellow out. In other words, by taking time for ourselves, we’re giving time for the brain to get away from the stresses it experiences daily and actually heal itself.

And this repair process can even be seen at the cellular level—the time we take away from the bustling noise of daily life causes the development of new cells in the hippocampus, the brain’s center of emotion, memory, and the automatic nervous system. In other words, quiet time allows for the brain to improve its essential functions if they are struggling throughout our hectic routine. The computer that is the brain isn’t just restart-able; it’s self-repairing. I don’t know about you, but if the cashier at Best Buy told me I could buy a computer that repairs itself whenever there is a problem, I would be swiping my credit card immediately. With the brain, we already have one. We just need to use that feature, and quiet time allows us to do that.

Obviously, just as restarting doesn’t fix every problem your computer has, quiet time won’t fix every single problem you’ve ever faced. I’m not saying it will. If that were the case, the world would be a whole lot quieter. But the world is loud. Very loud. And unfortunately, it looks like it’ll stay that way.

Still, it’s hard to deny quiet’s effects on your own physical health. At the very least, take some quiet time just for yourself. But quiet time transcends much further.


Learning to Get Comfortable with Silence

To some extroverts, this section may sound like a horror story to be told around a campfire. Many consider a lull in conversation to be like death. They may ask, “but how could you be comfortable with silence? It’s so awkward!” These complaints will probably be accompanied by a look of bewilderment and absurdity. And to you social butterflies who have no idea where I’m coming from—let me explain.

The effect of quiet on relationships cannot be overstated. The ultimate level of closeness and trust in a relationship of any kind comes from the ability to just sit together in comfortable silence. And this isn’t just for a significant other—it works for family, friends, you name it. If there’s someone you’re close with, this applies. I can say from personal experience that there’s nothing better than knowing someone you’re close to understands when you’ve had a long day and is willing to just keep you company when you don’t want to talk. When they understand this, it means they understand you at the deepest level.

If your companion doesn’t understand your need to recharge, it can lead to a few problems. First of all, the initial human response when confronted with a lull in conversation is to scramble to figure out some form of small talk. It’s just what we do. And that’s fine for an acquaintance from work or someone you just met at a party—but it doesn’t work for relationships that lie at a deeper level.

Seeking to understand the contrasting effects of small talk and deep conversations on mental well-being and relationships, University of Arizona professor Matthias Mehl organized a study in which participants were observed at different times of the day during varying levels of conversation. The results indicated that “higher well-being was associated with having less small talk and more substantive conversations.” I’m sure this revelation doesn’t come as a surprise, but upon deeper inspection the disparity is shocking: the happiest participants in Mehl’s study participated in “roughly one third as much small talk” as the unhappiest participants, along with “twice as many substantive conversations.”

So, what does this mean? Well, it seems the key to happiness in your relationships is to have deeper conversations. Yes, you may be saying, anyone could’ve realized that. But it goes deeper: what if you can’t come up with deep conversation? I’m not on a crusade to raise the next generation of philosophers right now—I get that no one can put themselves in the mindset to be Socrates on a daily basis. There’s room for conversation in our daily lives that isn’t focused on examining the endless mysteries of the universe.

The interesting part comes with the fact that Mehl’s study suggests, with its figures showing the unhappiness surrounding small talk, it’s sometimes better to not push it by trying to force conversation. Silence can be okay. Not everyone can come up with topics for conversation at all times. But it’s better for your relationship to let things sit for a few minutes than to make the air awkward and unnatural.

It seems illogical that the best way to improve your relationship with someone is to seemingly ignore their presence until you can think of something good to say. So, what explains this phenomenon? Well first of all, you’re doing anything but ignoring your companion’s presence. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before—actions speak louder than words. It may be an overdone cliché, but with relationships it rings true. Sometimes, the best thing you can do to let a friend or family member know you’re there is to just enjoy their company. As Pathways Professional Counseling puts it, “healthy silence can show a level of vulnerability and comfort in a relationship,” and it is sometimes best to just be “content in each other’s space.”

In this sense, comfortable silence can be the ultimate show of closeness in a relationship. You are being a companion in the rawest, most basic form. Small talk makes the environment awkward and pulls you away from your counterpart. It demonstrates the need to put up a wall, implying that you aren’t comfortable enough with just someone’s pure presence. Being quiet, by contrast, does the opposite. It’s a show of vulnerability. Through comfortable silence, you’re demonstrating that you’re fully comfortable just being yourself, and another person’s presence alone is enough to make you feel close. It’s like a silent olive branch—the ultimate demonstration of trust.


A World Full of Plastic Grocery Bags

The world is getting louder by the day. Just ask the National Institute of Health: “our modern industrialized society has spawned ubiquitous entertainment and sports industries with their boom boxes, ‘personal stereos,’…surround-sound movie theaters, loud TV commercials.” And yes, while we should be worried about the world’s decibels, (and their devastating effects on our eardrums!) the loudness of the world goes much deeper at a figurative level.

The thing about our society is it is becoming more and more like one of those plastic bags you use to carry your purchases to the car at Target or your local supermarket. It’s loud, (I know no one likes that crinkling sound) it’s inconvenient, and most of all, just like plastic—it’s fake.

The world we live in is constantly connected, through Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook—you name it. We have noise coming at us from our devices at all times. The issue with this noise is that a disturbingly large portion of it is not authentic. Sarah Knapton, the science editor for The Telegraph, says that “up to a fifth of young people admit that their personal reality does not match their online profile.”

Each time we make a new post and alter the details of our lives a little bit, the bag crinkles. And just like a real grocery bag, it’s loud and annoying, but it’s become so ingrained in our lives that we don’t even realize it.

With the onset of social media, many people feel pressured to be constantly posting updates on their lives to gain approval or a virtual click of the like button from their peers. And let’s be honest, no one’s life is that interesting to warrant a new Instagram story every five minutes. But people still feel the pressure to post something compelling, leading inevitably to the twisting or embellishment of reality on social media.

It’s time to phase out the plastic grocery bag. Stop being louder than you need to be or feel comfortable being. And most of all, stop being fake. Your appearance to the world shouldn’t be as synthetic as plastic. It’s better—for your own mental health and for the rest of the world—to just remain quiet instead of being tempted to put on that fake presence. It only leads to a lifestyle that is unnaturally vocal, not one that is healthy. You can be perfectly happy remaining quiet for a bit. The world won’t explode, trust me.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of this myself. I’ve done it all—closing out the BeReal app to get the perfect angle without it showing my retakes, closely tracking the likes on my Instagram post, trying to bring my Snap Score up as if that will make people think higher of me.

I’m eighteen years-old; I’m certainly not some ultra-wise philosopher. I haven’t had enough life experience yet to truly know the world. But after years of growing up in the age of social media, I’m proud to say I finally reached one major conclusion: I don’t care. And neither does anyone else.

I can safely say no one is stalking my follower counts or Snap Score and judging me for it. And coming to this realization is a truly liberating feeling. I’m not the version of me that Instagram portrays. I’m not the version of me that Snapchat portrays. I’m not the version of me that TikTok portrays. To tell the truth, those were three different people. Instead, I’m just me. I’ve sworn off the plastic bag of my old life. No more fakeness.

And now, I’ve come to realize the same goes for that dreaded car ride after a day of exams. I’m not putting on a press conference, I tell myself. There are no reporters grilling me so they can send out my quotes for the world to see. It’s okay to take some time for myself. I can be tired. That’s allowed.

And for you people who think you have to pretend to be an uber-connected social butterfly twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week—you don’t. No one is like that, regardless of what they may seem. It’s time to swear off the inauthenticity of that plastic bag and commit to being genuine. And whatever that means to you, whether it’s spending car rides in silence or cutting back on social media, go for it. Just be authentic.

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