We came across two essays on the same subject with the same title over the course of a week. The authors of these essays could not be more different. Dr Chakraborty is a professor of marketing at Shoolini University in the picturesque hill station of Solan in India. Ms Gonzalez is a bestselling author in America and now a staff writer for The Atlantic. Their essays shed light on a seemingly innocuous behavioural issue which captures one of the central faultlines in modern day free market democracies.

Dr Chakraborty writes, “Money has a way of causing people to clam up.

The social dynamic changes when someone has a lot of money. No longer are they able to relate to the average person on the street. They live in a different world with different problems. Money also gives people a false sense of security. They think that because they have Money, they don’t have to worry about the things that other people have to worry about. This is why rich people are so quiet.

They have everything they need and they don’t feel the need to engage with the outside world. Money has made them self-sufficient and content. There is no reason for them to make small talk or engage in idle chatter. They can just sit back and enjoy their own company without feeling the need to reach out to others.

Money has given them the ability to be quiet and content in their own little world. Money has a way of quieting people.

The rich are often quieter than the poor because they have less to worry about. Money can buy you food, shelter, and security. It can also buy you freedom from want and fear. When you have enough money, you don’t have to worry about where your next meal is coming from or whether you’ll be able to pay your rent. You can live your life without worrying about financial insecurity. Money also buys you power and influence. If you have enough money, you can make the world bend to your will.

You can buy politicians….”

As per Dr Chakraborty rich people love ‘quiet’ because: “Money gives people the ability to insulate themselves from the outside world. They can buy quieter cars, houses in gated communities, and private schools for their children. They can also afford to take vacations to quiet places. This is why rich people are so quiet – they can afford to avoid noise.”

Ms Gonzalez’s essay extends this line of thinking and make “noise” part of a class war. Her interview with NPR on this subject is very interesting. NPR begins by quoting from her piece in The Atlantic and then moves into interview mode, “”New York in the summer is a noisy place, especially if you don’t have money. The rich run off to the Hamptons or Maine. The bourgeoisie are safely shielded by the hum of their central air. But for the broke, summer means an open window through which the clatter of the city becomes the soundtrack to life – motorcycles revving, buses braking and music – ceaseless music.”

But she says that her native Brooklyn is being silenced and not by choice. Gentrification is to blame. In her essay titled “Why Do Rich People Love Quiet?” she argues that the neighborhoods like the one she grew up in are being taken over by demands for quiet, and it has a lot to do with class and a sense of entitlement. When we spoke, she told me she noticed this when she left home to head to Brown University.

XOCHITL GONZALEZ: You’re suddenly cohabitating with a bunch of people who had grown up in this culture of, like, you need concentration to be quiet. You know, music is a distraction. This is a distraction. That’s a distraction. So the idea of protecting and preserving quiet on the campus because we’re all meant to be there thinking just didn’t seem to vibe with what I knew. And also, a lot of the time when people would sort of ask for quiet, it was just, you know, two or three friends over, you know, to your room because you’re sharing space with new people. And your room is your living space. And suddenly laughing became sort of a distracting noise or, you know, like, how do I talk more quietly?

And so I think it started to feel like – living felt like a joyous thing, and at least a loud thing. But that wasn’t quite welcome because it seemed to get in the way of what we were told we were meant to be doing there, which, you know, was sort of the silence of academic departments and sort of the hushed quiet of waiting for your professor and leafing through things in the stacks of the library. And I understood that that was for those spaces. But it was when it spilled into living space that it sort of started to feel like one aesthetic and preference was dominating another.”

Ms Gonzalez then ups the ante and says that people in authority enforcing silence is an act of entitlement on the part of the privileged: “It’s the sense of entitlement, and it’s the sense that – the assumption that because there’s a temporary discomfort for that person, that multiple people’s, like, life at that moment should change for them. This idea of either being unwilling completely to moderate yourself or being unwilling to speak to people as human beings and equals…”

It would have been nice if these authors were around in our teenage years when our parents were shouting at us to turn down the radio, shut the door and concentrate on our studies. Anyway, we now have teenage kids of our own to worry about and there is no point telling them to be quiet in a world with endlessly streamed free music, podcasts and low cost videocalls.

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