Disclaimer: All credits for this post go to my brother and his crazy-but-sometimes-genius theories that he comes up with every once in awhile.
It was this one night, not too long ago. I was getting myself ready to sleep, and he suddenly posed this question, in an almost matter-of-fact tone, just like a passing statement,
“What if each of us were granted only a limited number of words per day, after which we go completely mute, and no one hears us?”
Now, we do this a lot – build unrealistic theories, most of which don’t make sense, so we just pass them off. This statement, however, got me thinking. What if something like this actually existed? How different would our lives be?
Each of us, whether talkative or not, have come across that certain point in our lives where we felt we may have said a little too much, went a little too far, and, without actually meaning to, let the situation become uncontrollable. Often, it is those very situations we regret the most. A small argument with a loved one or a friend yields drastic consequences because you couldn’t stop the words coming out of your mouth.
Personally, I’m a rather chirpy person. I cannot imagine my life with having to reduce my talking to a particular number of words every day. I say a lot when it’s my turn to talk, and even when it’s not. Yes, I butt in conversations when I’m bored, or sometimes just to annoy people. I’m not always like that, there are some days I like to withdraw from people and keep to myself. But, let’s not get into that.
If this actually existed:
I would think twice, or maybe even more times, before speaking.
I would sacrifice all those unwanted, pointless conversations I have, to save it all up for a better, more important one.
I would avoid getting into arguments. Trust me, that’d be a relief for everyone around me.
I would only talk to people who mattered to me, and ignore the rest.
I would talk briefly, and to the point, making sure my message is sent across through a limited number of carefully selected words.
I would try spending as much time, as I could, sleeping, reading or eating, to avoid conversing with people. That would actually be really fun for me.
Thankfully, I wouldn’t have to answer all those questions about why I was so quiet, or so distant, which people tend to ask me now, on those days that I withdraw from people.
Since I have this habit of speaking hastily, without thinking twice, I think this would actually help me, because I would place bringing a smile to people’s faces over hurting them for others’ entertainment.
On a more general level, I think these are some of the changes we would see around us:
There would be no categorizations like “extroverts” and “introverts” and “in-betweeners” (I just made them up. They refer to those in between – the ones that talk in moderation, not too much and not too little either).
Teachers would have to limit their lessons, and wouldn’t have to worry about keeping the class quiet. Also, they wouldn’t be able to entertain the students with stories of their personal lives.
Priests would have to shorten the length of their homilies, much to the relief of infrequent church-goers.
There would no longer exist all-day seminars, or training sessions or anything of the sort.
Actors and actresses would have to limit their work hours; they would have to perfect their scenes faster than before, so as to not waste too much time over a particular scene.
TV reporters, lawyers, doctors, and any other profession that involves communication with people, would see a decrease and professions related to working on the computer without having to interact too much would see an increase.
Of course, there will be so many more changes, but I’m going to save you the trouble and not point out each of them.
This theory has its own set of pros and cons, which leaves me on the fence with this whole idea being a reality. Yes, I would love not putting myself in situations I can’t handle because of my uncontrollable talking, but I also don’t want to miss out on various opportunities due to the same. I don’t want to miss out on a chance to bring about a change — in someone’s life, or in general — just because I crossed my word limit. I concluded, eventually, that maybe I could enforce this on my own, and try to control my words. It’s more than just a random thought; it actually is very convincing now, because I know of the consequences.
PS: Today’s typical generation was obviously not taken into account while this entire theory was being put forth. Today’s world focuses so much on chatting via phone or the internet, as compared to face-to-face conversations. So yes, please, do not think of that while reading this.
Feel free to share your views, I’d love to hear them!