Taking a break from the usual poetic malarkey, and inspired by a talk given by Roger Ebert and friends for TED, I got to thinking about the voice and the way the concept of the voice has perhaps changed since the dawn of the digital age.
As a (former/part time) singer, my voice has always been important to me. I stopped being in a metal band in an effort to preserve my voice, and got some singing lessons to work on my breathing and technique.
Never been particularly fond of it, right enough, but it’s mine, right? Can only work with what I have.
Similarly, I, like many others, dislike the sound of my own voice. Which is odd, given that I have a radio show but hey, that’s not about me talking rubbish. It’s about playing good tunes!
If I were to lose my voice though, I’d be pretty gutted. Particularly because singing is one of the very few moments in life where my mind is completely blank. Like a sort of meditation – pure zen.
But my actual physical voice is not my whole voice.
I, like a lot of people, spend a lot of my time online. There are various reasons for this, with boredom being the biggest, and as a result I spend a portion of my day not speaking. Whether it be texting on my phone, twitter, emails, facebook, MSN messenger, forums, this blog…the concept of what a voice is has changed radically since the popularisation of the internet.
So our voices have evolved from the noises emitted from our larynx, to our digital imprint on a variety of websites. When Ebert says that he lives his life out online, he’s not alone. Clearly that’s the point of his talk but there’s more it than there first seems.
There are those who think the increasing reliance of our society on technology is a burden, destroying the art of conversation, relationships and to some extent the English language but I disagree with that. As Ebert says, the internet is giving a voice to those who may not otherwise have been heard in society.
The internet a tool that give some of the most articulate people on earth a platform to be heard, and for those who literally have no voice, or for those who would not get taken seriously for a variety of reasons to be heard, free of society’s stigma.
There is a downside however. It allows complete morons a place to air their stupid opinions but even so, isn’t that the beauty of it?
Text on a screen, much like text on a page will never replace the art of conversation. It’s not better than having a face to face chat with your friends, that much is true, but it’s transformed people’s lives in many ways allowing people who may have had difficulty communicating in the past, ways to articulate themselves like never before.