The Silent Q&A
Recently I have started a vow of verbal dis-communication. I am not allowed to speak to anyonme through the use of the spoken word or even make noises meant to sound like a familiar word. Instead of speaking to people through words I am documenting my experience in a month of silence on a blog I call The Silent Blog (Not original but neither am I)
Obviously, there are some people who really don't care. They couldn't care less whether I talk or not and they probably don't want to be my friend. That's fine, I respect it all the more if you believe you know what you want in life. I really do admire it.
However, there are some people who just can't get enough, can't stop asking questions. After a single day of this and having only an apologetic smile on my face to show most questions I was rather down. I couldn't speak to anyone, an activity I had prided myself on for the first twenty years of my life.
Hanging out with my friend Joe, however, gave me an idea. He had known I was undergoing my vow and his friend was, as some people do, asking me about it. As said before, I could try to motion things out but, normally, I could only just smile sadly and shrug. However, after that friend left and I started relaxing in his home he told me, “You know what you should do; make a FAQs list that tells people the answers to common questions.”
So I'm doing it. Here ya go. I plan to carry a full copy of this Q&A with me everywhere in my remaining time of silence.
Q: Why are you doing this?
A: Thanks for asking! This is the first question I would ever expect to hear and it's the first thing you should ask because it's the first on the list!
I was recently sitting at home, listening to my roommate and my friend talk about things in the other room. Eventually, while thinking, I made an impulse decision. I'll silence myself from the world.
Talking has always been a hobby of mine and I realized that most of the time I just talk to hear something from myself instead of actually thinking about things. I guess I want to learn the value of the spoken word or figure out what everyone else thinks. I don't know, I guess I'm not entirely sure what I expect but I do expect, by spending a month without speaking, to find somethingand I expect to learn from it to become a better person in both my eyes and the eyes of others.
Q: Who are you, strange no-talking person?
A: My name is David Gray. I live in a two room, Beaverton condo that my mom owns. I live with my roommate, Erik. I like to watch anime and read manga. I like to play dungeons and dragons and take part in the SCA, which is a worldwide medieval anachronistic society. I am also an aspiring writer and I want to get a physics degree when I finally do manage to get through college. I am about six and a half feet tall and around 280 pounds with an average build that I am gradually building up into a healthier, more athletic type of body. In short, I am a pretty normal guy aside from the wierd hobbies and the fact that I'm taking a month long break from the sound of my voice. I started my vow on the 20 of June, 2010. Do the math to get how long I have been undergoing the vow from that point to present.
Q: What's it like?
A: BTW, one day in and I've already heard this question over a hundred times. It's not something that can be described without words, to tell the honest truth. Unless you do it as well I can't explain it.
In all honesty I have, in the very first day, felt many drastically different sets of emotions. First came a calm sort of feeling. At times I was pretty angry and irritated at the fact that I couldn't make myself heard with the preferred communication method of the human race. However, it also is a bit uplifting. If I had to say what I have really learned thus far, it would be that talking is around one tenth actually thinking about what you're going to say and the rest would be time you spend talking yourself out of it impulsively. After only one day the only emotion that remained static was something that I don't believe there is a word for. It's a stronger word than sobering but a weaker word than enlightening. Regardless, it is a rather good feeling.
Now In Geek Terms!
It's like all the RAM that I wasted on talking is able to be put into other, more productive things.
Q: Why are you handing out little tabs of paper to seemingly random strangers, David?
A: These little pieces of paper are for the express purpose of giving people a way to contact me in the most bare forms. There are people who will be, more or less, predetermined to get these little slips of paper with my name, the name The Silent Blog and the url that you may find it at.
The people I choose are people who I have watched for small periods of time in public and listened to them talk or seen them move until I have found out what about them makes me feel like they would make a good friend. It isn't much, believe me. Just don't start insulting or attacking me and be a little personal, as would be expected by all people, and you'll probably get a little white slip if you want it. I also give them up to anyone who even so much as ask what I'm holding or who ask a question that can't be answered with anything but words, in my opinion.
Q: Okay great! I got this little slip! Now what?
A: Now you do whatever you want. You can go to the site on there and comment and try to make friends with me. I'll try to be a good friend if I can. Alternatively, you could simply throw the slip on the ground at my feet as soon as I get it into your hand. If you want to be friends with me, that's all I'll ask of. If not then I am sure we'll both get along better without each other.
Q: What if you're trying to get a point across and I'm just not getting it?
A: Best advice I can give at that. Give it up. It's not worth your time or mine to start playing mystical charades in the middle of downtown portland. If you can't get an answer out of me anyway whatsoever, it's probably not as important as you may think and you probably just haven't thought long enough on the answer. Often the simplest things in life to figure out are the ones we think are impossible simply because we don't think about them. This vow of silence is something to make me do such things myself.
Q: But it's really important! I gotta know, at least some time! What do I do?
A: At least you're driven to your goals, be whatever they may. If this is, in fact, the case at hand then give me your email or something like that or go to my blog and contact me there through a comment. There is nothing in my vow that says that I'm not allowed to communicate, just not to speak. I will check my phone messages and check my email and blog comments as much as I am able but I am not to talk on the phone.
Q: I saw you walk through downtown and stub your toe on the curb and you screamed like a baby. Does that mean you broke your vow?
A: As a matter of fact, it doesn't. I have set a very large variety of suitable exceptions to my vows. If I'm not going to bother with them on this sheet but, if you're really curious , go look it up on my blog. For the most part, however, you can remember that if I speak in coherent words through any language or even make largely unintelligible plans where it is clear that I am just trying to talk with my mouth closed, I am breaking my vow. Otherwise I am allowed to make largely any noises I like. I can even express negatives or positives through “hmmm'ing” sounds. I'm just unable to actually talk.
Q: Does sign language count?
A: Despite the fact that I don't know sign langage I have barred myself from learning it. It is, after all, a language and it would be unfair to speak through it. The only way I am allowed to communicate in any language is through genuine writing.
Q: If I had a phone and it had a voice creator, could you talk through that?
A: No, that's just using someone else's voice to speak where I normally would. This is acceptable in some situations, like telling someone something quickly through the phone or delivering a message but not otherwise.
Q: Why is this FAQ so long?
A: Because lots of people ask lots of questions...
Q: I'm an attractive single woman and would like to get to know you better. Would it be, at all possible for me to coax you out of your vow if I tried to work my feminine wiles on you?
A: Now if this situation would actually rear it's blessed head I would be able to die happy. However, no, you won't be able to sway me to breaking my vow for you. The person who matters most to me in life is myself and what I am doing is for exactly him. Try as hard as you can, however, to make me speak. I really do look forward to the challenge. By all means, if you can, in fact, get me to talk, more power to you. It could even be the start of a great friendship. However, I will do only my best to keep from actually speaking.
Q: What if I wanted to do this too?
A: By all means, please do whatever you feel makes yourself feel better. However, if you're just doing this to copy me cause you think it's cool I would advise against it. I'm not some crazy buddhist who wants to learn the ways of the world through silence. I'm not an old Spanish monk who has taken a vow of silence to become closer to my god. I've chosen not to speak so that I can find out more about myself, nothing more. If you think about this and find that it just won't work out for you, nobody's gonna hold it against you.
Q: Combined with your stubborn ways, will your silence ever get on my nerves?
A: I have no doubt in my mind that me being without the ability to speak will, in fact, annoy the ever loving bejesus out of you. In fact, I sort of look forward to it. That's a little bit more I can learn about people other than myself. However, by no means do I mean to make you angry. I don't willingly go out of my way to offend people by being quiet. I'll try to show apologies but please understand that I don't have much to work with here. Have some patience with me if you can. If you can't I won't fault you a bit.
Q: If I see you in the city, or you see me and give me a slip of paper, should I remember you?
A: If you like. I'm not trying to be special. I just want to figure myself out. Someone has told me to exploit the vow and say “If you see me the most and try talking to me more than anyone else, you get a free ipod!”
However, I don't own an ipod myself. I certainly won't buy someone an ipod for “Most Downown Encounters.” Of course, I wouldn't mind company during my vow. It's nice to know that people still do want to make conversation work and wonderful to try to make it work without the aid of the spoken word.
Q: Should I feel compelled to give you money?
A: What man in his right mind would turn down money thrust into his hands? If you feel like you want to throw me a little free cash because you feel what I'm doing is worth giving away your money I certainly won't object. However, Im not going to ask for it and you certainly shouldn't feel obligated to see me, open your wallet and hand me a twenty. This isn't some pyramid scheme or a pay it forward fast cash plan. It's a journey of self discovery. If you want to throw money at me I won't complain but I don't expect or ask for it.
Q: What if I'm telepathic and can read your thoughts without having to play charades?
A: Then I envy you very much and hope only that, some time in the future, you teach me your ways.. Aside from that, good on ya but I do hope it isn't too callous of me to tell you that you shoiuldn't be reading this Faq and instead should just clean the most private secrets from my head for your own gain. Hey! If you can, do!
Q: Is this Q&A over?
A: Quickly! Look below this question! Do you see anything else to read? No? Flip the pages over and double check the backs. Nothing there? Start holding the pages up to the light, just in case I have tried to code in an invisible spy letter on any of these pages. Still nothing? Finally, to make sure that all of your options are exhausted, ask me if it's the end of the Q&A. I may nod my head, I may shake it. I may just smile knowingly to keep you in a state of suspect. However, if you can't seem to find anything else relevant, then maybe it's the end of the Q&A. Still wanna talk to me? Please refer to questions 6 and 7 above XP
If you would, please write a word of encouragement below in the blank area. Although I am sure I can do this myself, support is always cherished.