[TWO SIDES, ONE STORY] Is it better to be vocal or silent?
February 5, 2021
It’s better to be vocal
Why should you be vocal in your next discussion?
While non-political conversations and opinions may seem unimportant in today’s age, discussions, even about movies, are necessary in society. Opinions are expressions of who people are. To develop an educated, diverse, and accepting community, sharing even the silliest or least important thoughts is critical.
Every person’s voice matters. If only a small percentage of people share their opinions, there would be an undiverse and inaccurate representation of everyday things. Opinions educate everyone that hears them. Everyone brings a new perspective to any conversation. Sharing opinions and explaining oneself widens your view on the world and others around you.
A study conducted by Stanford University and UC Berkeley, published in Science in April 2016, found that canvassing and forcing conversations decreased prejudice against transgender people. The same goes for any discussion. Comparing opinions reduces prejudice within a community.
Sharing opinions, people’s likes and dislikes creates connections with like-minded people. How do you know who thinks similarly to you if you never speak your thoughts? Participating in discourse led by opinions is empowering and demands a level of respect from peers. There are only four types of conversations: discourse, dialogue, diatribe, and debate. The point of discourse is to share information, dialogue exchanges information, diatribe expresses emotions, and debates are supposed to convince someone of something. Two of those (diatribe and debate) depend on a difference in opinions. While people with different views might shoot each other down or feel unconnected, it communicates that everyone’s thoughts matter.
Staying silent can also be interpreted as a form of communication. While it may make one seem easy-going, others may interpret silence as someone who doesn’t care about the conversation or others’ opinions. Voices are personalities. Ideas communicate to the outside world who a person is. Staying silent does the same. Lack of opinions or personality in conversation is also a representation of who a person is. Friendly debates communicate that each member cares about the discussion and others’ views. It shows that they hear each other.
Before you share your opinions, make sure you are listening to the conversation. The way that one presents their opinions makes a large difference in how they are received. Present your thoughts so that they are relevant to the discussion and evaluate your tone compared to others’ tone. Not all conversations, such as one about a favorite movie, lends well to an aggressively stated opinion.
Speaking up is vital to developing a community that represents its members, so the next time that you find yourself in a heated debate about favorite movies, least favorite vegetables, or what makes a good research paper topic, share your thoughts.
It’s better to be silent
Sometimes, not speaking at all is better than sharing your mind.
The world is more divided than it has ever been. Communication is the most important aspect of life, for humans and lifeforms. It is essential to communicate with one another in order to live cohesively. However, given the current climate, dismissing politics, sometimes it is better to keep one’s mouth shut instead of sharing an opinion. While communication is an extremely vital part of life, silence can be seen as a better alternative given the potential repercussions of sharing your voice.
One of these repercussions is the possibility of offending someone in a discussion. Now more than ever it is easier to offend each other. This takes on all different shapes and forms such as how people identify, what religion they practice, or even as simple as an opinion about what they had for lunch today. Everyone seems to be more on edge than normal, given the magnitude of the pandemic and many other reasons. Given that, it is sometimes easier to just keep to yourself if your voice could potentially hurt someone. Once something is said, it can never be taken back. Words hurt more than actions, and in that case, sometimes it is easier to avoid potential conflict by keeping to oneself.
Another critical repercussion is judgement. While some may try to dismiss that judgement is a significant issue, it most definitely is. It is human nature to develop and hold judgments. Whether it be walking down the street and seeing someone wear a certain outfit or having a graded harkness discussion, judgment is everywhere. With that being said, the fear of being judged is also very prominent. Flashback to pre-COVID-19 and step into an SPA classroom that is engaging in a harkness discussion. Everyone, whether they say it or not, is worried about being judged. Will I sound stupid? Am I making the best possible argument? What will they think of me if I talk? Could this opinion possibly offend someone in this class? If I share it, will I be seen as a bigot? The list goes on. While it is important to participate in discussions, sometimes biting your tongue is the safer option, given the current climate of our society.
The third and arguably most important is the suppression of other opinions. Naturally, every discussion has a few people who dominate it. This causes other participants to shy away from the table. They can be intimidated, left out, and even skipped over. This leads to discussions that are not as productive as they could be, because sometimes the person who is the most quiet has something really important and valuable to say. Given this, it is good practice to hold your voice (especially as a dominator of discussion) as this allows those who are not as vocal or as quick to jump in. This will produce a much more productive and respectful conversation.
While communication is arguably the most important aspect of human life, especially in our day and age, it can be better to stay silent. This allows others to participate in the discussion, avoids potential conflict and judgment, and creates an overall better discussion experience for all that are involved.