A few years ago, a man told me that he had commented to his wife one morning, “The average person says about 16,000 words each day. It is not yet 9 a.m. and you have already exceeded your limit for the day.” Or maybe he said that was his ex-wife.
The point is that there is far too much talking constantly going on around us. So, if we take that man’s calculation as accurate, then a person speaks about 5,844,000 words a year and if the average life span is 78.7 years (and discounting the first year of life), roughly 454,078,800 words are spoken by each of us in our lifetimes. That is a lot of needless noise. How many of those words really need to be said? And far too much of what is said is way too loud.
Brevity is key. For example, when my friend Jim had health issues, his wife said, “Are you concerned?” He said, “Yes.” She asked, “Would you like to talk about it?” Jim said, “I just did.”
As that great philosopher of our time, rapper Drake, observed, “A wise man said nothin’ at all.” Or, put another way, as Lincoln supposedly said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Considerable verbosity is constantly littering our environment.
Cellphones make matters worse. None of us needs to hear a stranger’s phone conversation at the next table with graphic details of an intestinal malfunction or on an elevator about the kids. (Just once, don’t you want to go up and put in your two cents worth?)
Perhaps there are effective ways to curb all that clutter.
For instance, so many restaurants are just too loud with everyone talking. Restaurants have signs that tell you the maximum number of persons in the building. Maybe they should also have signs that say the maximum noise level allowed by law, like, “This room has a maximum capacity of 30 decibels at all times.”
We also do not need to hear others’ profanity. Sports bars could have “Curse Jars,” into which fans would have to toss a quarter for every expletive they utter. Even if it doesn’t cut down on the cursing, it might help pay for a new stadium for all those people to go to and leave the rest of us to eat and drink in peace.
It is amazing how many people have forgotten how to speak grammatically correct. Perhaps high schools should issue provisional diplomas, and over the next 75 years, every time someone uses a subjective case for the objective case, says “ain’t,” or declares something “very unique,” a record of this utterance is made, and the person will have to return to school.
Remember when newspapers had proofreaders? What happened to all those people? Perhaps they can get rehired as proof-speakers, someone we hire out to correct our grammar on the spot.
Or, just as we must press that SEND button before an email, tweet or text is released to the world, people should have a similar mechanism implanted somewhere between one’s brain and one’s mouth as a final point of asking, “Do you really want to say that?” (There may be an error here in the logic that the brain is somehow involved at all.)
Those shock collars to keep dogs from barking seem so cruel. Wouldn’t it be better to remove them from dogs and place them on humans to zap them for overusing the word “I”? That way two acts of human decency are accomplished at the same time. I would like that.