[[Why Don't We Talk More]]?

There is a crazy antidote from [[The Power Paradox]] I can't get over. [[Charles Darwin]] used to write four letters a day to people around the world. He used to hand write four letters a day and I can't hit send on a text message to ask how my friends are. What is happening?

We have the best communication devices in history, yet I go months without people who were once my closest friends. The problem is that along with being great communcation devices, our phones also provide distractions with much less resistance than staying in touch with those we know.

Is it easier to check twitter or to send a well-thought out text to a friend you haven't talked to in a while? Unfortunately, it's easier to check twitter. And that is what most of us do. Twitter is also full of the most interesting people on Earth. Is it smarter to go listen to them, or catch up with what your old college roommate is doing?

It can seem like the better choice to stay up to date with the best in the world, except for that fact that you don't know them. If you don't have people in your life you enjoy sharing conversation with, then you need to find them. Once you find them, you need to establish regular communication with them.

I listened to a podcast recently that talked about using your interactions with others in terms of investing. For example, when you sit on an airplane, you have two options.

  1. strike up a conversation with the person next to you
  2. load up a podcast, pull up your hood, and mind your own business.

Option 1 is a risk. That interaction has the potential to be a 10, with the more likely situation of it ending in a 1. The other person may not want to talk, or worse, they may want to spend the rest of the flight talking about something you don't want to listen to. On the other hand, option 2 consistently produces a 7/10 experience.

In the long run, it is much more likley that the small number of 10's you receive from taking that small social risk will pay out much better than consistently taking that 7. But most of us are not willing to take that risk. Why?

Again, because the 7 is so much easier. It isn't scary at all. Plus, it's a 7, that's still pretty good, right?

Say in your lifetime you take 100 flights. 80% of the time the conversation leads to a dead end and you get to listen to a podcast any way. 10% of the time it leads to a conversation you regret having started. 5% of the time you end up having a pleasant conversation and end up following them on some social media platform. The last 5% of the time you hit it off with the other person so well you got their phone number and stay in touch. After those 100 flights, you end up still having listened to 80 podcasts, met 10 new poeple you like, 5 of which you really like, while only sacrificing a few hours of lousy conversation with the unfortunate 10% (a high estimate) of people you wish you hadn't talked to. On the other hand, you could have just listened to 100 podcasts.

To me, there's a clear choice which of those options leads to higher long term reward.

One Voice Memo A Day

Today I decided I'm going to start sending a voice memo recording to a new person every day for the next month.

Voice memos are an underutilized medium that people avoid for fear of sounding stupid. In my first memo to each new person, I am going to establish that this is a space specifically for sounding dumb. It is a channel for expressing a digital personality that is much closer to real life than we can have otherwise.

What is holding back remote relationships? It's hard to type out all of your ideas. Conversations are great because they are wasteful. A lot of what people say can be thrown away and you can still get the gist. That is often what we do when we text. We get to the point. We are [[low context culture]]. That means we like to get to the point.

But the point is often so boring. It takes time to build a relationship with other people. We need a lot of time with someone before we feel comfortable staying stupid stuff in front of them. And even if we feel good to do that in person, it's really hard to do through text. With voice, we move a dimension closer to real conversation, without the necessary to be in sync. There is also the added benefit that you can have more time to think about your reply than if you were in a real synchronous converation. I think this may lead to even more in depth conversation.

My Linked Notes

One last thing

If you liked these notes, hit me on Twitter!