Tonight technology driven by a sore shoulder brings you this post via dictation. I feel like a cheap episode of an old Star Trek. Of course all the episodes of Star Trek were cheap so I guess this puts me right at home.
Mind you the power amazes me given the state of computers just 15-20 years ago. I vividly remember a disabled friend typing via a pencil clenched between her teeth. Now folks perform high-level jobs without ever touching a keyboard or mouse. Of course ever since we crawled out of the caves we have improvised around our puny bodies’ limitations. We erect huge buildings, roar down streets in fancy cars and literally fly to the moon. Powers which have wrought great beauty and even greater destruction. Like everything else it depends on who wields the power and the circumstances surrounding them.
Still I find this power of speech particularly terrifying. Oddly because it has always come to me so glibly. As a child I live surrounded by relatives who verbalized everything. Looking back it went beyond merely filling silences. On all sides of my family we saw and experienced everything. Our glimpses became fodder for stories, jokes, and fights. I suppose the modern term is processing, but I prefer living. Yet when the time came to give my heart away it went to a woman who taught me to value silence. An amazingly gifted musician she experienced the world by being still enough to hear sounds beyond my range of hearing and understanding. Like many long-term couples we eventually drifted apart but not before I learned of worlds I missed by not listening hard enough. [Note: picture is not my ex – just random (also gifted) musicians].
I suppose the fear arises from using speech in everything I do. Like many in my family I always fall into the caregiving professions, no matter how much I try running from them. It’s closely linked with the whole world domination thing I have had going since kindergarten. Taught always to give back my family members and I seek to lift up the world around us. In my case I use persuasive skills –either verbal or written– to cajole, console, or scold. In my youth I sought justice and power. Now in middle-age I seek to settle or repair things. It no longer seems like a compromise given what I’ve learned of the world’s fragility. Mostly, much like the dictation, its learning to trust going with the flow. The faster you dictate the fewer mistakes you make. The more people and situations you quickly clean up, the better the worlds. It’s like bringing a little spring in the middle of winter.
So what so terrifying? It’s knowing how easily people use speech to do the wrong thing. It’s not just the larger questions of morality its seeing people ripped to pieces by someone else’s words. It’s knowing people so damaged they no longer trust anyone. It’s remembering, how like any other non-perfect human being, when I used speech to destroy people. With glibness comes too many glitches is or gotcha’s. With writing I feel distance and a chance to edit (unless I had the itchy send button finger going). Of course given my clumsy dictation skills I will always have a chance to edit. Still it harkens of a world where speech will grant instant gratification. Hopefully I will remember what my ex so wisely tried to teach me, just wait and listen.