One of the main inspirations behind my short story, Human, was the palpable impatience in conversation.
How often do we find ourselves explaining the context of a situation – whether personal or professional – and the listener suddenly ceases to be just that, a listener – as they interrupt with a question; a question which would be answered in due time with further explanation?
We are interrupted because the listener doesn’t have the necessary patience for the context.
The problem is we, the speaker, have a need to be heard. We may have only one question which requires background and explanation, while at the same time informing the speaker we understand essential aspects of the subject. The interruption shifts the need from ours to the other party, and our need is never met.
One of the characters in Human is an individual named McGregor – the original creator of Human-SIM and its networking systems. We meet him briefly in the final portion of the short story. We don’t know much about him yet, however he’s written much about why he created Human-SIM, and this “conversational impatience” was one of them.
In his early research paper, Modern Conversation and Its Flaws – The Cause of Social Disturbance and Degradation, McGregor noted his intent to “eliminate the ever present conversational impatience by allowing the listener to have all the information ‘uploaded’ or ‘shared’ with the listener” just as the conversation begins. McGregor states later in solid conclusion: “No more interruptions.”
We suspect McGregor also intended to eliminate his own social anxieties when speaking. Many who conversed with him noted that he spoke fast, perhaps to get the background out before the listener would eventually interrupt and get stuck on a point – unconsciously making the conversation about them rather than himself. We don’t know yet if McGregor himself had narcissistic implications which were self serving in his early efforts.
The current equivalent of this is Amazon’s meeting policy: the entire audience uses the first 30 minutes of every meeting to read a narrative and digest all relative information for a more efficient discussion. We theorize that McGregor attempted to recreate this in his early versions of Human-SIM.
“Few are patient enough to wait until the end of a conversation to say their piece,” McGregor noted. “As interruptions occur, they are neither of service to the speaker nor necessary to the conversation other than meeting a need for the listener to establish themselves as the dominant or more knowledgeable party. Extreme inefficiencies are created as the flow of information is no longer allowed to be linear post interruption. Each conversation participant is now at a different level of understanding, and frequent doubling back must occur.”
Further reading on my own thoughts about our future if Human-SIM were a reality can be found in the conversation I had with fellow creative Andrew Hall.
We will learn more about McGregor and Human-SIM in the future as I write more of the story within the Human universe – which may not be far from our own.
One can learn more about Human-SIM by reading the short story, Human.