Monday, May 15, 2006

The silent majority

The silent majority is an elusive demographic group. Everyone knows they exist somewhere out there, but no one can point a finger and say, there they are, we've captured them in a box, strapped them with simple sentences and now you can define them anyway you want. They are much too slippery for that.

But that hasn't stopped people from attempting definitions, or even trying to fix meaning to any vague semantic jiggery pokery that often passes as 'sensible' discussions on the silent majority.

Governments, media organisations, social scientists and political groups, for instance, talk about the 'silent majority' practically all the time. It's their favourite topic or so it seems. Most decisions are taken with the silent majority in mind. Certain causes are defended to serve the interest of the silent majority. Many articles and books are written to articulate the expressions of the silent majority. And massive projects are undertaken for the benefit of the silent majority.

An infinite load of chatter seems to be puncturing the airwaves, and yet we notice a distinct inability in arriving at anything concrete. Hot air and no warm breeze.

Almost everyone who talks on behalf of the silent majority insists that the group is in danger and requires protection from the antics of the rabble rousing and highly vocal minority. Oh yes. The vocal minority. Another elusive demographic group that require a separate post to fully understand who and what they really are but we'll leave that for some other time, ok. But if truth be told, this 'save the silent majority' campaign seems to say a lot about the ones organising the campaign than about the subject matter itself.

The campaigners usually talk on their own behalf but do not say so explicitly. They cannot. That would be so selfish and self-centred and would put them in such a bad light. So they pick a more magnanimous route and become the spokespersons of this vague entity called 'the silent majority'. Sounds better that way, too. Makes them look like people concerned about the 'general good' instead of coming across as ones talking only about their own petty little life.

Of course, it's all about appearances. The image game again. An age old exercise geared towards looking good in everyone's eyes.

But most importantly, it is the safest and most convenient option as well. After all, the silent majority is always very silent, and silence can mean so many things.

And everything depends on how you interpret that silence.

Everything.

1 comment:

Jon Aristides said...

Maybe the person who speaks for the silent majority is the same one who famously said: "I believe in one man, one vote. I'm the man and I've got the vote!"