The mute button was invented by an engineer in 1955 (Polley by name) who worked for Zenith… Although a man named Robert Adler, who invented the television remote, should also be mentioned…  i.e. No remote, no mute button.  Anyway, they both did us a favor.  MUTE on the television means that one can temporarily stop the sound emitted from the television.  One would guess that which one mutes, would be the myriad of commercials that we would otherwise sit through to watch just one tv program.

Ah, silence!  It has always been my friend; so, when my family bought a television set that had this wonderful mute button, it was heaven for me.  One minute some woman is vomiting her vocabulary about her painful twenty-eight day cycle and the next, I have muted her!  No more discussion.  And, let us not forget the many commercial moments about medicine…  Twenty seconds of medical description followed by forty seconds of horrifying disclaimers, as to how this health providing med might also maim or kill the consumer.  MUTE!  How glorious thou art!

In the course of one TV program, there can be as many as six commercials per commercial break.  My parents would hit the mute button and then proceed to read or do cross word puzzles, glancing up now and again to see if the actual programing had returned or not.  There wasn’t enough time to have an actual discussion of worth.  And, maybe this is at least a part of the beginning as to when we stopped talking to one another. Add to that the fact that wow days, there are so many forms for technology which interrupt true communication between persons, that I wonder sometimes if we will one day cease to speak to each other at all.    And, if we ourselves become mute, will there be no conversing at all besides texting and emojis?  That would not be enough for me.

This writer wants, no needs, conversation with real people.  Yours truly needs to see a face and feel humanity as we share a few words together.  I believe in the importance of that exchange of words; it brings to us, a kind of health that we can’t get in any other way.  And, I would couple that with the importance of human touch, when we shake hands with a new friend or put an arm around someone we’ve known for a very long time.

For me, technology as communication, whether it be texting or the mute button on our televisions, is like dessert.  It isn’t the main course.  It’s a sweet delight that enriches the meal, but does not feed our health.  We need real communication for that, one thought and one voice at a time. And, it is at this moment that I recall Yousafzai’s quote…  When she says that one voice becomes powerful when we mute the world.

May your ears be blessed with silence, an opportunity to mute the TV, and a chance to listen to something or one worthwhile.


Carolyn Thomas Temple