“I really hate talking” : how Technology makes it OK

“I really hate talking” : this was my google search query of the day.

There is something I like to do…when a thought pops up in my head I like typing it in google and see if other people had the same thought too. I find it really amusing that sometimes the exact sentence I thought of, even as weird as it is, with the same combination of words appears in google. There is something reassuring to it. “Ohh google thinks like me ….. :)”. Other times when there is no result at all, it’s also flattering. “Hehe my thoughts are so unique … :)”. Today when I typed “I really hate talking” in google, it was really to measure how many people out there didn’t like talking either, I was certainly hoping to be reassured on some level…by the Internet.

Sure getting feedback from the Internet has an effect on us. Let’s stop ignoring it. We are either reassured to see that we are not alone in all our weirdness, or we are quite satisfied that we can still have fresh and original ideas nobody thought of before, this makes us feel unique and special. The Internet is this giant shared mirror where we can quickly find our answers and check others’ points of view. In my case, I usually feel weird for not liking to talk, as if I needed to apologize for it. Thankfully communication doesn’t stop at talking and technology knows it.

I hate talking …

Let’s face it, not talking still kinda seems weird. We are voice enabled creatures. I often feel obliged to talk even when I don’t have anything to say. It’s just the way humans communicate and I’m amazed at people who always have something to say. How can you always have something to say? The exercise seems really tiring to me. And sometimes hearing someone talking too much is so … ha!

Last week-end I was stuck on a canoe (I spare you the details) with a guy who would always talk and make comments. Even in front of the beautiful and calm landscape, he couldn’t stop emitting his voice! How could I do? I was stuck in the middle of a river on a canoe with him! Well, when people talk, at least I feel relieved that I don’t have to talk. It’s probably a matter of what I am talking about.

I like talking to people with the same interests as me or with friends, but I feel really uncomfortable talking just to talk and make conversation. And I am even more puzzled when people spontaneously make comments on any situation, I never know how to respond, I just think ‘ok!’. And it’s weird, people actually like telling those comments to me. Yesterday, someone working with me was eating a candy in front of me but he was facing someone else, I was working and focused on my computer. Suddenly he turned at me and said “Ouch! The candy cut my tongue, my tongue is bleeding!”, what could I say?

To draw the picture, when there is no relevant information or just pleasure I get from the conversation, talking for me is sucking the energy out of me in a genuine way : my brain starts looking for things to say to not make the other person uncomfortable, gets stressed out and energy is wasted. I don’t have the talent of the marketer who can talk about anything at anytime. I hate talking. Or more precisely, I hate making conversation.

But I love images and writing !

Truth is I am way better at writing. And this is why I love technology, it lets me express myself in so many other ways than just talking. I came to understand that there are so many kinds of people, all interesting and needed. There are visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, social persons, etc. I understood that I was a visual thinker when I watched Temple Grandin on TED in her lecture “The world needs all kinds of minds” and when I saw her movie “Temple Grandin”. I really understood the way she thinks, in “google pictures” as she said. Maybe I don’t reason in images at the same level as her as I am not an autistic person , but I am definitely images sensitive.

So this is how I am, I think in images and it’s quicker than to think in words, so my mind is always filled with images rather than with words to say. This is probably why I don’t like much talking. I always feel I can only say ordinary things through speaking, whereas when I write or when I have the time to describe what I see, things come out more creative and therefore interesting. I like well arranged things and ideas. Usually images that form in my mind are so quick that I find it boring to even try to describe them with words and talk about it. I prefer taking a picture or find the quickest accurate combination of words to illustrate it.

So I love technology for letting me express myself directly in writing or with images. Technology liberates us from our original human limits. If it was only us, in our bodies, we would just use talking and gestures to communicate and people like me with images flooding their heads would not be able to express themselves through talking. Instead they would draw or invent writing…. Technology is this another extension that enables us to put our minds out there even more creatively than with traditional supports. This is the engineers’ role I think to bring the tools to people so that they can express themselves in new ways. True, the computer is this other support that lets us express ourselves through new forms of expression, but the Internet really enables communication by letting us share what we create. The Internet lets us share, the computer lets us create.

Technology makes it all ok

So, all in all, technology makes it ok to not like talking by bringing writing and other means of communication to the same level as talking. The Internet makes communication instant, and even more interesting than talking. 80% of my communication with my brother is through Gtalk, and we communicate way better like this than by talking. I like how technology removes the unwanted effects of traditional communication. Weird silences, unneeded small talks etc. Technology is just efficient. Of course I find a lot of drawbacks to online communication too, but I also appreciate technology for its efficiency. There is this sweet story of an autistic girl that finally expressed herself on Twitter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jq–75v4lI8&feature=player_embedded isn’t it cool what technology is capable of? Ok, I promise I am not autistic =)

We need more tools to express ourselves more accurately though. I have the feeling that technology is not as efficient as it could be. Sure, we are just at the beginning of seeing what those tools can be. But I truly think that the possibilities are just enormous. With a pen and paper, think of what we can do. Write a story, draw a portrait, a storyboard, create, create, create. Now, with a computer and the right tools, think of what we can achieve..! What already exists is great, we can already share and create pictures, videos, music. But the creative tools are still very technical and either everybody becomes tech savvy either engineers build magic tools as easy to use as a pen and paper.

I bet on the second choice, we humans just think better by intuition rather than by following coding instruction guides. This is where UI comes in play (yay!). But what are those other tools that will revolutionize the way we express ourselves? For now we can call them, “WebApps” but we should really find new forms too. Sometimes I think that in the future we will not need to talk anymore because we will be used to other ways of communication. Maybe we would emit our thoughts somewhere instantaneously and understand each other like that. But for now, let’s deal with the Internet.

To finish my story, when I typed “I really hate talking” on google, I found “I really hate talking on the phone” as a result. Some people prefer texting to avoid the awkwardness of talking. One of the first links were this website that I found crazy hilarious http://isitnormal.com/story/is-it-normal-to-really-hate-talking-on-the-phone-54193/. A website that lets you vote if you find something normal or not ! And it works! I’m not fond of normality but I find the idea funny, it exploits the very human attraction for normality. It lets you express a judgement. But it could be better, right? I mean, is it really by clicking on a button that you express yourself? Is it possible to invent new forms of communication through technology that would still match our humanness?