My social experiment: staying silent for a day


Anyone that knows me won’t hesitate to tell you that I love talking. In fact they may suggest that I have a hard time not talking. So when I found out today was the annual day of silence to support LGBT awareness I thought it would be an interesting experiment to try.  The day  of silence began as a “National youth-run effort using silence to protest the actual silencing of LGBT people due to harassment, bias and abuse in schools,” according to  the official site of the organization that plans the day.

I decided to do it not so much because I thought being silent all day would bring about drastic change but more because I wanted to prove to myself that I could not talk for a day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the cause, but considering that only people who I interact with during school even noticed I was doing the day of silence, I didn’t feel as if I was really protesting. I thought of it as more of a personal experiment.

Knowing I wouldn’t be able to stay quiet the whole day I decided to just aim to go quiet the whole school day with the exception of a three minute English speech. I’m proud to say I was successful and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought.  By using a mixtures of expressions, gestures, and the occasional (though I tried to keep it to a minimal) notes, I was able to not talk for eight hours.

I definitely think that staying quiet got easier throughout the day. The hardest class to stay quiet in was definitely my first period (AP Bio), because we were doing an activity. Luckily it mainly involved counting and collecting data so I survived. My second period (AP Psychology) was a lecture, my third period (AP Calculus) had a test, and my four/six period (AP Lit, where I had to make my speech) had debates, so those classes were not a problem.

Lunch, however, was another hurdle. During class and passing periods it was easy enough to simply smile, wave, and nod at my friends while listening to conversations from the outside. Many of my friends also played along really well by asking some yes or no questions I could nod to and reading my gestures pretty well. But during lunch conversations I definitely had to stop myself multiple times from jumping into conversations and ended up allowing myself to use my phone to type things out. I will admit however, that I did like not being pressured to constantly add to the conversation or blurt out all my thoughts.

After lunch and AP Lit I had Advocate, which was easy enough as I spent the period typing an article and working on some homework. Usually I’m more talkative in that class but everyone knew I was doing this so they let me be and didn’t tempt me too much with conversation. Philosophy was a little bit more difficult as it is a discussion based class, but today was more lecture since it was the start of a new unit so that went well. Finally, I ended the day in aerobics, which could present itself as a problem as it’s gym, but yoga Friday’s are quiet so that helped out.

When the 3p.m bell rand I was proud that I spent the day silent. It made the day more interesting, allowed me to be more of an observer, and I succeeded in my goal. I would definitely recommend that anyone interested in the cause or like me, interested in trying something different, give the day a try. It not only gives you a new perspective on interacting with others, but also makes you realize how much we rely on language to go about our everyday lives.

Nevertheless, I quickly found someone near me to begin relaying all the things I had wanted to say throughout the day. After a few minutes though, I returned to my normal state of talkativeness.  I don’t think I could ever go a school day without talking, but I definitely have a new appreciation for those that may be quieter. It’s not as bad as it seems.