The Noise Floor Has Risen

A relatively impassioned conversation about Apple’s acquisition of Beats occurred in our office yesterday. Aside from my aversion to wearing headphones anywhere but my ears as a fashion statement, there was an interesting epiphany I took away from the conversation that I believe has huge implications for our world.

The days of the singular leading voice are fading fast.

Steve provided for Apple what few had before: a visionary voice so prominent that he literally took the stage for Apple. Iconicized, love and hated vehemently — Steve was a cultural leader.

I write this post with full confidence that you understand that it isn’t about Apple. It’s about our culture.

Our culture has changed immensely in the last 25 years. So much so that we have fundamentally new societal rules as they relate to mass media.

Even within the last 5 years, the availability and mobility of information has challenged the previous notion of cultural leadership.

Who is your leader? Whose voices do we listen to? The truth is, before technology made information dissemination trivial and instant, our leaders were those with the highest stages. Society en large was pushed forward by public figureheads and the political or financial powerhouses.

However, technology has flipped media distribution on its head, and we all have a worldwide stage. Our previous standout leaders are now much less prominent, because we have so much more media to consume. Media is no longer consumption only; we all participate now, and many of us vocalize with opinions that we believe warrant a listening ear.

With so many people talking, our world has gotten pretty loud.

The noise floor has risen, and to stand out, you have to do something either extraordinarily loud, or capture the voices of others.

Truly, to rise to the top, people must adopt your voice as their own — they must echo you, and pass the message to the back of the crowd. And we can’t trick people into adopting our message, either. Since the noise floor has risen, people’s resistance to followership and indoctrination. We can’t treat people as drones, but instead as humans.

What do we do, then, with our voice? How do we craft a life giving and put it into the world?

We make our messages count.

We stop caring more about the message than the people the message matters to the most.

We foster and share the messages of others that matter.

We don’t assume that we have to be loud to matter.

We find the quiet spaces, and share the message with fewer people and open ears.

We fight for the purpose, not for the shares, likes, and impressions.

We share authenticity, not manufactured copy.

We don’t quit when the message is drowned out.

We don’t simply add to the noise: we make every word count.

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