Monday, June 15, 2009

The voice in my head is more eloquent than the one in my throat

I was walking over to Building 40 to get lunch this afternoon, and my iPhone died, so I was forced to listen only to myself think for a few minutes. My life has become so media-saturated that that's actually a fairly unusual circumstance, and after a bit, I decided to see what would happen if I just started talking out loud.

One thing that I noticed was that I had a hard time exactly translating the thoughts in my head into words. I'd get the gist out, but in my head, perfectly-formed phrases and subtle insights bounce just out of my grasp, uncatchable by my voice.

I realized that this might be due, in part, to the fact that I've done a lot of self-censoring over the years; that not everything I think ever gets said (and probably most of it doesn't). Over time, that mechanism probably became somewhat automatic and so now, even when I want to turn it off, it's not quite so easy.

In addition, there's probably inevitably some lossiness in the translation between media - thought to speech and thought to text - just like how some English phrases don't have French equivalents, and vice-versa.

Which all means that most people are probably more eloquent in their heads than they are when they speak, and one shouldn't be quick to assume something about a person's relative level of intelligence, based solely on their ability to efficiently funnel their thoughts to their throat.


Jeff Epton said...

Like yours, Abe, the voice in my head feels way more eloquent than most things that come out of my mouth. But your post is a nice assessment of the likely generic causes of that problem. What's most interesting though is the whole "I was forced to listen to myself think" part. Clearly, you survived that trauma decently well.

Unknown said...

I used to discuss and debate frequently. As I've gotten older I've found many people are only interested in what they are saying and not in listening to me (or likely anyone else). It's irritating because I try to be polite and respectful but I often don't recieve the same treatment. I've found myself speaking less especially when I can't make myself heard. Its easier to say to myself, "Well self, this is what I think or feel and its valuable to me even it its not valuable to anyone else." I've never considered myself an aggressive, stupid or boring person but perhaps I am, hah.