Recently I watched Lex Friedmans podcast with Elon Musk. I was fascinated by the way Elon would would pause for nearly 15 seconds before answering each question. The long pauses where he would carefully contemplate what he was about to say seemed awkward, it’s something we don’t encounter in our daily lives.
But part of me began to consider maybe it felt awkward because we have been conditioned to feel that way, and I toyed with the possibility that the introduction of the television helped cause this.
In fact when you watch the earliest aired television footage, you may find yourself thinking the way they were speaking is more awkward than Elons pauses. It was noticeably artificial, and unpolished, as these people were trying to figure out how to extravagantly present themselves on this new medium. As time passed, the way people spoke on TV evolved, and changed even more drastically as advertising became more prevalent.
Eventually the standard format for TV was condensed down to 30 minutes, with nearly a third of that being shaved off for commercials. This forced writers to condense dialouge into its most simplified form, and forced the actors to speed up the pace they delivered their lines. Very rarely would you find any pauses or silence within these 30 minute blocks, every second counted when it came to delivering the story.
It’s no secret that recent generations were raised by TV, and people (unknowingly) started mimicking the behavior seen on the screen. Could this constant exposure to condensed and simplified dialouge with immediate responses change the way we think when we communicate. Did it cause us to start feeling uncomfortable with pauses, forcing us to blurt out the first thing that popped in our head without taking time to properly analyze our ideas?
Is it possible that before TV, humans communicated in a slower and more focused manor? Is it possible that our drive to mimick the content presented as normal dialouge has dumbed us down, and made us less capable of critical thinking?