When Saying Nothing Says Something

Do we have any JT fans out there? (That’s Justin Timberlake for rest of you.) His latest release, Man of the Woods, includes an excellent soul-pop-blues duet with Chris Stapleton titled “Say Something.” The song culminates with this catchy hook: “Sometimes the greatest way to say something is to say nothing at all.” (I highly recommend a listen.)

I suspect we’ve all heard or used the old “pause for effect” effect. Sometimes punctuating your words with silence has just as much of a communication impact as a bold statement. In her brief speech at the recent “March for Our Lives” event, Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez included a 4 minute 26 second window of silence to acknowledge the time it took an active shooter to act out a horrific attack on his classmates and teachers. Politics aside (please), this was a powerful pause for effect. And few could argue that Gonzalez certainly managed to say something by saying nothing at all.

Four and a half minutes in our go-go-go, can’t stop/won’t stop, busy-ness-filled days usually seems like a camera flash or a puff of smoke. But when we are unexpectedly presented with four minutes of raw, inescapable silence, it seems like an eternity. It can feel surprising, awkward, uncomfortable, disturbing, anxious, curious, calming or a combination of all the above. The point is, we notice.

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