Word of the day: catch on

Like any major city around the world, London is a busy, noisy place. People are often rushing from one place to the next and, increasingly, we are all bombarded by sound: there’s the roar of traffic, the ringing of phones, the constant chatter of the people around us; there are police sirens, bass notes booming out of car stereos and trains clattering by in the distance. Given all of this, it’s perhaps not so surprising that silent activity is starting to catch on.

When something catches on, it becomes popular and fashionable, and the growing need we seem to feel for quiet time can be seen in events such as those hosted by London’s silent speed-dating organisers Shhh! who put on regular singles events, featuring “non-verbal flirting games” and “eye-gazing”!

Of course, it’s not just in London that there’s a growing trend for silence. New York, another crowded, hectic city, is now home to Eat, a restaurant in Brooklyn whose monthly silent dinners have proved so popular that you anyone keen to experience them needs to book months in advance. Meanwhile, the Australian artist Honi Ryan has hosted silent dinner parties all over the world, in the hope that they give diners a break from small talk and gadgets like mobile phones.

More and more people are also booking places on silent retreats. These usually involve getting away from the city for a few days and spending time around other people, but in total silence. Retreats often have a religious or spiritual dimension, with Buddhist, Christian and Catholic retreats making up the majority. Many claim that time away from the constant noise of the modern world allows them to find peace within themselves.

A couple of years ago, there was even a documentary film called In Pursuit of Silence, which explores our relationship with silence, with sound, and the impact of noise on our lives. You can watch the wonderful two-minute trailer (in which not a single word is uttered) here.

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  • How much quiet time do you manage to get in your day-to-day life? Would you like more?
  • Do you think any of the ideas mentioned above will catch on in your country? Why? / Why not?
  • What other things have started to catch on recently where you live? How do you feel about them
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