Portrait of the Artist as a Man
April 28, 2015

Silence, The Sequel

I completed the Round 2 of Silence with only a few observations:

  1. I feel like I’ve got it down pretty well. I’ve always been a pretty quiet dude.

  2. I was positively loquacious on Friday night when I got to OmegaCon and around friends in a rustic lodge in Nowhere, Wi. I talked myself lightheaded.

I feel like the later should count as a failure but I needed to be around people who get me and have no expectations. I was able to relax and relieve some tension. And that should account for some value beyond following a this virtuous credo I’m attempting.

This may be rationalizing.

Or I’ve well internalized modern expectations for silence? Which is certainly possible though as previously stated, i’ve never been much of a talker. Society values vocal contribution and extraversion, especially in men (1), and dominating a conversation is some ridiculous social trophy (2). But, again, I’ve never been much for that; I like absorbing conversation, or fading into the background in larger, unfamiliar, gatherings.

But, extraversion is the expected mode of operation today, or at least the ideal. So I may well have been virtuous according to modern societal expectation, I do not think extraversion was well regarded in Franklin’s era. At least not like today. Today, to be brash, loud, forthright is to be in charge. To be quiet or reserved is to be passive or defective (3). Modern expectations for Silence or founded upon an extrovert ideal.

From Susan Cain’s Quiet

The Extrovert Ideal has been documented in many studies, though this research has never been grouped under a single name. Talkative people, for example, are rated as smarter, better-looking, more interesting, and more desirable as friends. Velocity of speech counts as well as volume: we rank fast talkers as more competent and likable than slow ones. The same dynamics apply in groups, where research shows that the voluble are considered smarter than the reticent — even though there’s zero correlation between the gift of gab and good ideas.

Regarding the gender differences, in particular I’ll call out from the same book,

Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.

Emphasis mine but I think that’s important.

Anyway. I was acting properly” according to current standards which is rare for me.

Maybe it’s that I can’t really lose. I’m quiet and I learn. I talk and people listen (4).

  1. Arguably, it’s only ok for men to be verbose. Research regularly shows that men talk more in school or in meetings and, if women speak even 30% of the time, are seen to be talkative or bossy. ↩︎

  2. In some cases. ↩︎

  3. In men. Women, gosh, you’re always supposed to be reserved. Can’t have any opinions or thoughts. What are you, bossy? geez… ↩︎

  4. Likely because of my bossbosyy parts. How idiotic is that? ↩︎

Wrestling with Franklin

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