Thought Cluster: Loud

  • Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve noticed that teachers generally prefer the quieter students over the louder ones. Obviously, if you’re trying to maintain control of a classroom, this makes sense, but this is outright discrimination against people who have an inclination to talk more.
  • Statistically, the more you say, (or type in my case), the greater chance you have of saying something stupid/offensive/inappropriate. Is it worth taking the risk, or is it better to just shut up? (glares at everything I’ve written during NaBloPoMo)
  • Statistically, the more you say (or type), the greater chance you have of saying something intelligent/insightful/encouraging. Are twenty blunders and screw-ups worth that one moment?
  • “Have more than you show, speak less than you know”
  • Quiet people bother me. Or at least they boggle me. Loud people at least place everything they know (and pretend to know) in front of them and proclaim it to the world. On the other hand, quiet people rarely express their thoughts, and they’re the silent observers of the world, noticing things that most of us fail to recognize. They’re also the people I want to know better,  so I can learn about their perspective on life.
  • From Paul Graham’s What You Can’t Say: (fantastic essay by the way.)

The most important thing is to be able to think what you want, not to say what you want. And if you feel you have to say everything you think, it may inhibit you from thinking improper thoughts. I think it’s better to follow the opposite policy. Draw a sharp line between your thoughts and your speech. Inside your head, anything is allowed. Within my head I make a point of encouraging the most outrageous thoughts I can imagine. But, as in a secret society, nothing that happens within the building should be told to outsiders. The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.

When Milton was going to visit Italy in the 1630s, Sir Henry Wootton, who had been ambassador to Venice, told him his motto should be “i pensieri stretti & il viso sciolto. Closed thoughts and an open face. Smile at everyone, and don’t tell them what you’re thinking.” This was wise advice. Milton was an argumentative fellow, and the Inquisition was a bit restive at that time. But I think the difference between Milton’s situation and ours is only a matter of degree. Every era has its heresies, and if you don’t get imprisoned for them you will at least get in enough trouble that it becomes a complete distraction.

I admit it seems cowardly to keep quiet. When I read about the harassment to which the Scientologists subject their critics [12], or that pro-Israel groups are “compiling dossiers” on those who speak out against Israeli human rights abuses [13], or about people being sued for violating the DMCA [14], part of me wants to say, “All right, you bastards, bring it on.” The problem is, there are so many things you can’t say. If you said them all you’d have no time left for your real work. You’d have to turn into Noam Chomsky. [15]

The trouble with keeping your thoughts secret, though, is that you lose the advantages of discussion. Talking about an idea leads to more ideas. So the optimal plan, if you can manage it, is to have a few trusted friends you can speak openly to. This is not just a way to develop ideas; it’s also a good rule of thumb for choosing friends. The people you can say heretical things to without getting jumped on are also the most interesting to know.

  • I’ve said some really idiotic things that I never got to take back or apologize for, and it haunts me, since I know people are judging me for it. However, most of this is my own fault anyways, and I’m honestly not sure how to deal with it. (“Hey, uh, you know that thing I said last Monday? Well, I kind of regret saying it…what do you mean you don’t know what I’m referring to? It’s been bothering me for the past few days!”)
  • Because Calvin and Hobbes is always relevant: This comic. And kind of this.

Other thought clusters.

5 thoughts on “Thought Cluster: Loud

  1. From the point of view of a quiet person, I always thought that teachers preferred loud students… I mean, talking is part of your grade. To me a participation grade seems like discrimination against students who have a tendency to talk less.
    I just don’t feel the need to express my thoughts most of the time, I guess. At school in particular, I tend to speak up only when I think my idea/answer is really good. At other times, I don’t talk because I’m nervous or because I don’t feel like it’s my “place” to go and make conversation with everyone- that’s for loud people. :P

    (P.S. I’m a friend of Jessie Chen’s and I randomly found your blog through facebook. Hi :) )
    (P.P.S. Sorry if three of these show up, something went wrong posting the comment)


  2. I love this post too. I understand you. I, for one, have always been the loud one. I don’t know what it’s done for me but at the same time I’m usually loud about nonsense. I only talk seriously to a few people and talk completely honestly AND seriously to an even lower number of people. I’m personally a little scared of quite people…just a little…because I feel like they may be judging my own comments and may also be hiding their own brilliant thoughts that make my own thoughts seem puny. I’m a pretty blunt person so it scares me when other people have ulterior motives that I have no clue about. This is probably because I’ve fallen for a couple of “friends'” tricks and now I have to be wary about everyone else even the people who probably don’t have any ulterior motives. Ugh. I don’t know. It’s a complicated subject. I personally feel if everybody just screamed out their thoughts the world would be a lot simpler. At the same time, because all humans are selfish, no one’s motives would necessarily mesh…and I guess it could get violent…*sighs* why are humans so complicated :( I don’t know where I went with this. I probably won’t change my loudness though…I’m too used to it lol


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