2. Holding the squelch

This is a kinda whiny post, but yolo.

When using a radio, ie when flying a plane or using a HAM radio, your gear has what’s called a squelch, this is a bit of circuitry that keeps background noise from always playing through the mic, but lets the equipment start transmitting when you start talking. “Voice-activated” in mumble. While the squelch is open, it’s transmitting your speech. This is where the meme of the drone-y airliner pilot comes from. “Good afternoonnnn….ladies and gentlemennn…this is your pilot speakinggg”. It’s a continuous stream of voice into the mic to keep the squelch open.

I’ve noticed people do this in regular conversation. They’ll bridge sentences with “soooo” or “mmmmm” to give themselves time to think, without accidentally signaling to anyone that they’re done talking. I think it comes from fear, that they won’t get a chance to finish their thought, or that someone is going to start talking over them or through them. That they won’t be heard. A bit of insecurity. I think it also comes from a sort of lack of practice speaking. Like, they want their story or thought to have a nice structure to it, to communicate something properly. For the speech to have a beginning, middle, and end. But they’re not quite delivering on that.

It’s annoying. Don’t hold the squelch.

This relates to two things, one is to listen when others are talking, rather than thinking of what you’re going to say next– both the squelch holders and their conversational partners probably do too much of the latter. You end up ready to pounce with your very smart ™ thought, as soon as the person stops talking. It sucks to be in a conversation with someone who’s doing this, because it’s not really a conversation at all. The squelch holders have experienced the trauma of talking with pouncers their whole life, so now they’re fighting for air in the conversation the only way they know how.

The other thing is to stop talking when you don’t have anything to say. “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” If you feel yourself not saying something that you think is true, just stop talking. I definitely don’t get this right a lot of the time, and even worse, I notice when I realize that what I’m saying doesn’t make sense, sometimes I’ll trail off as I realize it. I think this is OK, but I can do better.

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