Speech vs. Silence



Although silence is golden, we can greatly benefit from speech, until we evolve into more superior telepathic life forms. Talking is most needed in "vital" contexts where choosing silence, writing or any other medium is irrelevant, impractical or even dangerous.

The main functions of speech linguists define are "telling information, expressing emotions, giving orders, and making a declaration." However, their importance varies widely according to context, and diminishes gradually as civilization moves forward. The more we evolve, the less we talk and more we think.


I. Speech Advantages & Silence Disadvantages


  • Emergency: Crying for help when facing a difficulty, unable to survive alone, is instinctively vital. Similarly, "responding" to someone else's cry for help. The worst type of silence is "collective silence" about the loss of human life (e.g. nations' silence about the crimes/diseases/injustice of their laws, leaders or citizens).
  • Testimony: Telling the truth when time counts and others are ignorant/silent about it. Silence about the truth is passive lying. Sometimes "breaking the silence" of others requires will & courage, without following the herd/traditions/norms, where one's voice is automatically amplified and presence brought to the spotlight. Otherwise, untimely silence is interpreted as acceptance, apathy, arrogance, ignorance, weakness, or just nonexistence.
  • Action: The mere utterance of certain words is compulsory to give ORDERS to others (humans/machines) and change their state to do/stop something. Or it is to make a DECLARATION changing others' status, as in some rituals and procedures: marriage, inauguration, recruitment, etc. ("Thou art married/divorced/hired/fired ...!")
  • Cooperation: Live interaction with other people requires sometimes giving orders/instructions/opinions fast & immediately, as in close observation/examination/protection, esp. in speech-based jobs (teacher, instructor, operator, etc.) at a control panel, operating room, laboratory, pilot cabin, check-point, etc. However, many such jobs are being gradually replaced by machine/robot.


  • Although mutual interest is the driving force for relationships, sharing a conversation can make speakers more at ease and relaxed together. Conversation can strengthen social bonds between close people and break the ice between strangers, whatever its subject is (just as physical intimacy does among humans or animals). Even stereotypes that others already know and expect can make a difference in others' mood: greetings; exclamations; questions about health/weather/general topics; or even interjections and speech fillers.
  • Talking to others/oneself (dialogue/monologue) is a good exercise for psychological relief. Sometimes, others can never understand your suffering, sympathy or gratitude unless you voice it.


  • Speech helps audiovisual & social learners, who need some sensual and social support for their thoughts
    • to hear themselves think,
    • to improvise ideas while talking,
    • to grow motivation while seeing the reaction of others to their speech.
  • Speech arts, whose functions like other arts are inspiration, entertainment, etc., such as delivering poetry, singing, oratory, story-telling, etc.
  • Talking, to oneself/others, temporarily helps focus, in case of fatigue, distraction or sleeplessness. It supports abstract thinking, to visualize, memorize and recall ideas faster. However, nothing like sleep and resting can improve focus.
  • Speech is needed in self-generated questions: long series of consecutive "what-then" questions between speakers based on each response. This would otherwise take ages in written communication waiting for each party's answer.
  • Tests:
    • Measuring the quantity of knowledge someone has now, as when they talk there is less freedom to pause, rethink, edit, or get support/reference.
    • Measuring someone's honesty, limiting their ability to lie by making them improvise freely and spontaneously.
    • Measuring someone's independence, making them talk while under social pressure (others' censorship, criticism, distraction, etc.); this is esp. needed for skills used in real-life situations among other people.


II. Speech Disadvantages & Silence Advantages

Talking leads to talking, as to some degree we lose control over what we say if it's not curbed from time to time by our own will. Talking/babbling is an instinct we share with other animals, however refined ours is, acting on its own when we give it free reign. It is a mere motion of vocal cords & other speech organs, that, like other body functions, is operated by the lower primitive brain that naturally hampers higher brain functions and weakens willpower.

When self-control is lost, dignity can easily be lost too. A speech addict/chatterbox loses the respect of others who may not take what he says seriously, even when he is serious. A talkative parent/teacher/preacher/manager/leader embarrasses himself by over-talking that others may disrespect, ignore, avoid, interrupt, or force him to "keep silent." Some speech addicts keep talking almost to themselves "while" with others.

Worse still, some talk "at" others, verbally terrorizing their audience. Conversation creates bias and discrimination against those who can't compete with verbal bullies. If you are right, you won't necessarily be treated so if you are not equipped with the right physical, social, and verbal skills to advertise your view, whatever its value.

Talking can cause ignorance, misleading, not leading speakers to truth. When people simply talk to please themselves and others, truth doesn't matter much. They may exaggerate, truncate, spice up, touch up, or distort the entire truth. They divulge secrets, spread rumors, perpetuate myths, and celebrate darkness, for the pleasure of it.

Still, some claim to meet up for "sharing ideas" and "getting information"! They share thoughts like/while they share meals, laughs, visits, etc. although the former is different by nature from the latter, requiring different brain functions and lobes. At best, they meet to see the reaction of other people to their words, turning them into a mere sounding-board to their thoughts, if any: a common pretext to justify the compulsive urge to join and "follow the herd," rather than face solitude. Silence is truly painful to those suffering loneliness; yet speech for speech's sake leads to even more emptiness. Rather, they need real engagement.

Conversation can be very risky, by various irreversible mistakes one can make and "verbal accidents" with unpredictable consequences if one doesn't watch that hole in their face: slip-ups, taboos, insult, political incorrectness, disclosing secrets/important data, etc.

The simple right to think, or hear yourself think, is infringed by those you are with, whose interruption could instantly kill any thought you are following, if you were not flexible and vigilant enough to "back it up" in advance. Some professional speakers "fake" attention to others, to follow their own ideas.

There is no way to contemplate in tranquility with your eardrums, vocal cords, and entire body sometimes constantly under pressure while listening or talking to others, verbally and nonverbally. Long conversations can cause stress, boredom, and pain, physically and mentally, that many doctors and gurus recommend complete silence sessions for improving one's sense of well-being, self-control and peacefulness.

Conversation is an impractical medium of learning or communication; it's difficult to process, compared to books, films, or just thoughts. Unlike written/audiovisual media, conversation is less controllable: it cannot be freely paused/rewound/fast-forwarded/sped up/slowed down; or bookmarked/scanned/skimmed through; or edited/copied/pasted, etc. Meanwhile reading/writing/recording/filming can, with amazing dexterity and control. In conversation, we are not given the time or space to mix and compare the newly acquired knowledge, e.g. in a classroom, with old concepts, experiences, and, most importantly, emotions, so that we may love or hate, trust or doubt such new knowledge. No time is given to prepare the house for the new guest; instead, we thrust them into any corner of our overloaded brain.

Conversations can waste tremendous time, energy, and resources, as evident in most social gatherings, talk shows, internet forums, tabloids, soap operas, celebrity news, reality TV, etc. where topics get out of control, wandering in different directions, according to speakers' different moods, beliefs, and motives to talk, ending up with poor knowledge, chaotic cooperation, and quarrel sometimes, even between friends. Without "mouth control" people may act like cars without breaks.

Sharing one's feelings, thoughts or actions with other people, through conversation, can be pleasing, brain-storming, and vital sometimes; but its role is temporary, never leading to deep happiness, coherent knowledge, or fruitful cooperation, as one spends so much energy to get a disappointingly little outcome. True harmony is that achieved by long individual work, before the final social part crowning such work.


Pros and Cons of Writing       |        Reading Techniques       |        Lying Causes and Effects

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