People don't talk anymore.
All day, every day, 24/7, 7 days a week, every single one of us is glued to our phones, the Internet, Snapchat, Instagram, or what-have-you. You could go an entire day not talking to someone and not even know the difference because you've just "liked" six pictures of six different friends on Facebook, and you've deemed that enough social interaction to call it a day.
Not only is this affecting the way we communicate, but it's affecting the way we grow as human beings.
In order to test the boundaries of modern communication, I decided to see how much I'd really be missing out on by keeping quiet for an entire day. So that's precisely what I did, and boy, did I learn a lot. Here's what went down.
I walked into work pretty happy that I didn't have to talk to anyone all day. I was having one of "those days" anyway, and I just wasn't feeling like my chatty self.
As I stepped into the elevator, I ran into the cute guy from the second floor in my building (just my luck). I've talked to him once or twice, so he kind of already knows I'm weird.
"Well hello there," he started. "You survive that blizzard OK?"
I pointed down to the Post-It note stuck to my chest, which read: "I AM STAYING MUTE TODAY. SLACK ME. <3"
"Ah," he laughed. "Let me know how it goes. I'll be here."
I smiled and merrily hopped off the elevator. Staying mute was already doing great things for my game.
The first thing I wanted to do was say hello to my co-worker, but I couldn’t. Actually, it turns out I have this desire to say hello to everyone and everything, even inanimate objects. I had to keep mentally reminding myself to shut up.
My team and I start off our day with a meeting in which we talk about what each writer is going to write that day. I very much look forward to these meetings because our professional lives entail fleshing out our personal lives, so they're highly therapeutic for me.
These meetings are usually also quite hilarious. I remember really wanting to laugh, but I couldn’t, so I opened my mouth and did the whole silent laugh, a la Mr. Bean.
At some point during the 45-minute-long meeting, I also began to wonder if my input was even important -- or missed -- at all. I’m sure it is. Eh, I HOPE it is.
We did get off topic for a while and began to explore two topics I'm very passionate about: big boobs and bleached buttholes. This is where I found it incredibly difficult not to weigh in. I also couldn’t participate in the group sign-off of the day (“1, 2, 3 nipple hairs!”) which kind of bummed me out, but I survived. Sure, I could've emailed my team members my thoughts on large nipples, but would that really have been as fun (or as practical) as jumping in mid-conversation, in the heat of the boob-fueled moment? Not really.
Incidentally, I'd gotten my long-awaited period (YAY! I’m not pregnant!) sometime after the meeting and right before lunchtime, and I wanted to shout it from the mountaintops because I was so relieved. But alas, I could not.
I did eventually direct message my coworker Zara over Slack confirming I'm not with child, but the only way to get my over-the-top excitement across was by slacking in all caps. It wasn't nearly as fun as screaming it into her ear while suffocating her from hugging her too hard.
So, yeah, staying quiet was a bit tough.
The whole day, I listened to Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay’s latest album, to calm the chaos swirling in my head. Coldplay has that kind of effect on me.
I regrettably must inform you that during the day, I slipped once. I wouldn't be a good lab rat (or writer) if I omitted that bit of info, so here it goes: I texted my coworker, Kevin, asking if I could borrow his scarf, because I was cold AF in the office. He said I could. When I walked over to his desk to retrieve it, he began to engage me in casual conversation, and I engaged him back for about three seconds.
Mind you, I ONLY slipped because HE talked to me FIRST (damn you, Kevin). But my other coworker, Zara, immediately reminded me to STFU, so I promptly stopped socializing and scurried back to my desk like a hamster that got flung off its wheel.
Here is where I much rather would have asked him in person for his scarf. I was visibly shivering, so telling Kevin in person would have gotten my point across much more effectively. Texting may be faster, but it isn't always the best option.
Ordering lunch was easy enough. I Seamlessed that sh*t. The only trouble came when I wanted to thank the delivery guy in person for trudging through the snow-turned-slush to get my Mexican food over to my hangry ass. I understand the whole point of Seamless is to be able to get anything with one touch of a button, but I was still looking forward to having that moment with the delivery guy. You know, the moment your insatiable appetite has been leading up to. Being handed that food and giving appropriate thanks makes it seem that much more pivotal. Radio silence makes it all seem way too easy.
But when he handed me my food, I smiled politely and tried to thank him with my eyes. Not sure if he understood. Mexican food delivery guy, if you're somewhere out there reading this, thank you.
I’m not gonna lie: Around 2 pm -- my mid-day slump, which sometimes also doubles as the time of day when I mentally spiral -- I felt like a bit of a social outcast. I felt the way I did all throughout middle school, when I was ostracized from the cool kids' lunch table because I was really weird and looked like Lenny Kravitz.
Then, I got to thinking about how no one will ever love me, which led to needing to vent about how picky I am when it comes to finding love. I decided to post an emotionally-charged Facebook status to move through the cobwebs in my brain:
Sure enough, the status got a bunch of engagement. I was pleased. I HAD to get my thoughts out; I was bursting at the seams.
It's funny how having an outburst like this IRL would most likely make me look like a total psychotic freak, but doing it over Facebook made me look opinionated, yet still sane. Props to Facebook on this one. Props to the CAPS button, and props to technology.
I came straight home and Netflix-and-chilled for the rest of the night. Before I knew it, it was 9 pm, which was time to begin my bedtime ritual of yoga and listening to soothing music. On my downtime, I downloaded a podcast, went online shopping and consulted my sister about which dress I should buy. I was able to do all of that online and through texting. Literally everything was retrievable with a swipe in some direction or another.
The day practically flew by. TBH, my whole mute experiment wasn’t that difficult. And this is coming from someone who LOVES to make new friends and incessantly annoy old ones by talking too much.
Would I be able to stay mute for longer than a day? Sure. I think I'd last three days max. Social media platforms proved to be enough for me because they allowed me to pour my heart out without feeling completely stifled.
I realized I sustain connections with people -- not just followers and new friends, but also friends from the past -- via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram a lot more than I actually thought I did. Sometimes, I'll go an entire weekend without actually seeing someone in person, but I'll have had a weekend's worth of conversations.
In fact, even this past weekend, I had the stomach flu and didn't actually see anyone for 48 hours. Don't get me wrong, it sucked, but the not-seeing-people part really wasn't that bad (especially compared to the puking out my guts part). Friends and family texted me nonstop, Instagram had me scrollin' through people's social lives and I had my Netflix, which shut me up for hours on end. I think I actually spoke maybe five words on Saturday, and I wasn't even writing an article for the Internet about it.
So there you have it, folks. If you don't wan't to talk to people anymore, it's actually pretty easy, and I also think it's kind of sucky. Call me old-fashioned, but I'll always prefer a love letter via snail mail over a carefully crafted text. But this is just the world we live in now, I suppose.
Still, I do enjoy the challenge of fitting a week's worth of complaints into one 140-character tweet.