How to See What Others Don’t

By Meg Walburn Viviano 

“All the noise! Oh, the noise! There’s one thing I hate, all the noise, noise, noise, noise!” 

Right now, I’m feeling a lot like the crabby, green hermit that lives on a mountaintop in the 1966 holiday classic, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! 

Except the holidays are behind us, and it’s not Christmas cheer that has me feeling grinchy. It’s social media. Log onto Facebook or Twitter and the excessive digital “noise” is almost deafening: People hurt and angry, firing comments back and forth over what happened at the U.S. Capitol; People feeling protective or defensive over pandemic decisions like whether students and staff should be back in school. Even posts that used to bring joy are now met with controversy—photos of a vacation to Mexico or a big family gathering raise eyebrows in a pandemic. 

What are we to do to quiet the noise? Well, it seems obvious: we can log off. We can turn off notifications or leave the phone someplace where it’s inconvenient to grab and compulsively check Facebook. My favorite spot is on top of the refrigerator. 

When you free yourself from mindlessly scrolling down a digital feed, you’ll be surprised how much time and energy you free up. 

First, you’re avoiding the conflict, negativity, and general discontent being aired out by your friends and acquaintances. 

Second, you’re eliminating distractions and getting brain space back. With all the noise silenced, you can take time to see what others can’t see. 

In CBM Bay Weekly this week, we look at just that: ways to quietly see what others don’t. Our Creature Feature columnist dares you to rise before dawn and take a drive to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. There is a whole world to observe if you stay very still (and dress for the weather). In Bay Bulletin, a self-proclaimed “bird whisperer” shows us how to spot the elusive, bright-colored bunting—rarely seen in the Bay region—that’s causing major excitement in the birding community.  

There are also ways to enjoy the quiet right from home, like finally picking up the book that’s been beckoning from the shelf all year. Finishing a book feels a lot more rewarding than reading a never-ending stream of commentary on Twitter. Sporting Life has some outdoorsy book suggestions for the Chesapeake reader. 

Finally, our cover story spotlights a rising star in the Maryland legislature who sees what others have not: 37-year-old State Delegate Shaneka Henson, who succeeds the late longtime Speaker Michael Busch. Henson’s incredible life story of growing up giving to the less fortunate—then living in public housing—then working hard to earn a law degree—allows Henson to advocate for her district from a perspective few lawmakers can. 

We hope these stories inspire you to quiet the noise in your life, too. You just might see something the Facebook grinches don’t see.