Abusing silence

I confess to being a Selective Silence Abuser. Abusers come in many kinds, flavours, and colours, nowadays. In addition to the time-honoured kinds, like the Booze Abuser, the Drug Abuser, the Social Benefits Abuser, and the like, a whole catalogue of new ones have recently popped up. Here I’m not talking about the more or less immoral abuses where one person abuses another, like using abusive speech, beating some bastard up, etc.

No, my particular abuse rather belongs inside a large Venn circle that could be labelled Self-Abuse, together with such problems as megalomania, smoking and not working out. (I should probably point out that here I don’t use the term ”self-abuse” in the same way as it was used some 100 years ago, when it meant something completely different.)

Pleasant current abuses

Among the new kinds of abuses we find some remarkably pleasant ones: Sex Abuse, Lottery Abuse, Computer Game Abuse, each one giving rise to its own psychiatric specialty and its own volunteer Support Group to help the sufferer kick the habit. Any old habit will of course not succeed in reaching Abuse status. A habit generally becomes an Abuse when some psychologist or psychiatrist succeeds in making the headlines by maintaining that his/her (pitifully under-funded) research shows that XYZ-abuse will soon eclipse AIDS and SARS as the most serious threat to humanity.

Anyway, I’m a Selective Silence Abuser, SSA for short. The affliction hasn’t made the headlines yet, so strictly speaking it shouldn’t be termed an Abuse. But have no fear, it will, one of these days. The word Selective means that I only abuse very particular kinds of silence. For example, I don’t shut my ears off to traffic noise, belching, pneumatic drills or bomb BOOMs. My abuse consists of living in a relatively high degree of selective Pop & Rock Music silence – I’m unable to hear pop, rock or country music.

No hard feelings at all

Mind you, I’ve nothing whatsoever against these types of music, not in the least. But I have rarely experienced them. I know the faces of a number of pop megastars like Madonna, Leonard Cohen and the Rolling Stones, of course. But as a rule I’ve never heard their music.

My affliction has an anamnesis, like afflictions do. The problem can be historically extrapolated from – and blamed on – the fact that the Swedish state wireless used to have one channel and one programme only, for an unusually long period of time. The programmes then were a mix of music, news, talks, wireless plays. So at that time I was reasonably knowledgeable about popular music, because I heard it on the wireless, along with news and talk. But then they introduced more wireless channels and the airwave material was split up – talk in one channel, music & trivia in the others. By wishing to listen to the talk, I was suddenly shut off from all of the current popular music, being too lazy to dial in on the other channels.

Musical snowball

This state of affairs continues. I still listen to the talkative wireless channel, which is devoid of music. Hence I have never heard the tunes that people are humming or talking about. A major problem is the snowballing effect that this state of affairs brings about. If you have never heard song X, then other people’s heated discussions and comparisons of song Y (which I haven’t heard either) and song X become incomprehensible. Hence the even newer songs Z, W, etc., become ever more remote from your horizon of experience. Little by little you become a total pop-music ignoramus, completely shut off from an important sector of social life, with one non-listening experience reinforcing the next non-listening experience. The Rest is Silence.

Intimidating CDs

I could of course step by a record shop and get a few CDs. But standing there, unable to tell one title from the next, is just terribly frustrating. Moreover, the huge selection is intimidating in itself -- to be able to listen to all of this would take me two lifetimes, and I don’t even know where to begin.

On E2 an affliction like SSA can be a problem -- I’ve not a clue whether a pop-music writeup is an erudite treatise or just bunk, all I can judge it by is the spelling and the grammar.

    If you know of a volunteer Support Group for SSA victims, or a psychiatrist specialising in the field, do /msg me.