Paulelmo's Blog

When Nothing Needs to be Said

Back in my drinking days, I was about as bad as they come when it came to saying things simply for the sake of saying something. It’s a nervous habit people have, driven by a feeling of inadequacy; silence makes us feel exposed, so we feel the need to deflect the attention from ourselves by saying something about anything but us.

In these days without alcohol and cigarettes in my life, I am satisfactorily pleased with my level of effort every single night when I go to bed. This kills most of the self-consciousness I may have, and I am pleased to have become a person of fewer needless words.

That, apparently, is not the case of a gentleman I was having a conversation with recently. We were talking about driverless cars.

Now, I totally loathe the idea of driving on the same roads as such vehicles, which to me just seem to be the next installment in our continuing pursuit to be as lazy as possible. There are just too many in the moment unknowns to give it all up to the split second decision-making skills of a computer for my tastes.

And this guy agreed with me, or at least he said he did; that’s one thing about people who say unnecessary things: they often tend to be the same people who agree with whatever opinion is currently espoused.

But, that is neither here nor there. This dude was agreeing with me that driverless cars are just a bad idea. We had agreed, and the conversation was over, nothing left to say.

I was just fine with the silence that followed, but apparently he wasn’t, and I just hate it for people that they feel this need to add something flippant to an otherwise thoughtful and fact-based discourse. I want to hug them and tell them everything’s ok, that I understand and that they can step down from up there on that frightful stage, which is their life, as I wish someone had done me back in the day.

I wanted to do this to this man after he said, “Besides, you can’t cuss a computer.”

Well, first off, you most certainly can, and anyone who thinks you can’t would have seen this had they been a fly on the wall of my offices for the last 25 years. Secondly, adding a piece of fluff commentary to the substantive pieces that have come before only serves to diminish the whole conversation.

I responded with a decent “harrumph,” which was to say “That’s food for thought, but it really isn’t food for thought.”

Maybe he took something from it.

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