Unpleasant noise

It’s an age in which everyone is upset all the time. All you have to do is look at the Internet. It’s full of people screaming at other people for saying things they don’t like.

Salman Rushdie, speaking to NPR about his new book and on the state of Internet rage.

I think we have to just turn that sound off and turn away from that unpleasant noise and just get on with doing what we do.

For me, this isn’t so much a case of turning the sound off, but of tuning out the shouting matches and serial complaints, of choosing where to pay attention. Salman Rushdie has spoken before about the importance of concentration, saying “if you pay attention properly the story will tell you what it needs.” The same applies to the Internet: if you pay attention properly, the Internet will tell you what you need to know.

This sometimes means making some hard choices about who and what to listen to, in order to make room for what is important. This doesn’t mean ignoring every argument. Some of the arguments that happen on the Internet are important, but they can also drown out the people who are genuinely looking for opportunities for improvement. Those are the people to find and pay attention to.