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Silence group

Sit together and be still for a change.
  (+16, -4)(+16, -4)
(+16, -4)
  [vote for,

Instead of group therapy, or book clubs, or debating clubs.

Really, just get together and be silent. Not meditating or anything, just sit there.

I know I behave differently around other people than when I'm alone. So I suppose a group of people around me will make me think about a lot of things such as: what do they think of me, do they like me, do I like them, or any of the common stuff that goes through our minds the whole day long and is never worth writing a novel about.

But this time I have one less thing to think about: talking! And it makes a big difference!

No more thoughts such as: what should we talk about? what should I say? Should I say what I think or should I change the subject? etc.

Think about what happens at one of those awkward silences. I mean the ones where nobody said anything wrong or anything, just nobody knows what to say. And we start talking about the weather or WHATEVER to make that uncomfortable feeling go away. Where does the discomfort come from when people are silent?

I think it has to do with being a little affraid about what the others think of us. And through talking we form alliances (sort of) that make us feel safe.

In a silence group things will be different.

I sit there and have to pee, suddenly. Normally I would get up and ask the host where the toilet is and excuse myself, or if I allready knew I would probably make a remark along the lines of: back in a moment or something and many people make jokes about it like going to shake hands with the little guy. Why? Social discomfort. But now I'm in the group I can just get up and go. Somehow that would make a small difference.

Or suppose I sit there and suddenly remember that I have forgotten to turn the gass off,(say) I have to go but I can not explain myself because I can not talk. What would everybody think? How could they cope?

One thing is for sure nobody would think: Was it something I said?

Or what if I want to eat the last cookie on the tray and I allready had one? Normally I could make a little joke and take it anyway, or, what many do, I could offer it to somebody else, or the whole group. They will understand that I'm only being polite and will refuse so I can take it. We just play out the social behavioural patterns.

I'm having a little difficulty trying to arouse your enthousiasm. Would anybody else like to wind down like this? Do I make sense to anybody? Would you take the last cookie in a silence group?

zeno, Mar 01 2005

Restaurant 4'33" Restaurant_204_2733
They could meet here. [contracts, Mar 01 2005]

Chat Carriage Chat_20Carriage
Don't sit here! [jonthegeologist, Mar 03 2005]


       I'd tell you but then I'd have to kill you.   

       Seriously, you raise a provocative question. Even though I dare say your central idea was baked to a pretzel ages ago in monasteries.
reensure, Mar 01 2005

       This sounds like a Friday night in the pub with me and my mates.
DrBob, Mar 01 2005

       Religious Society of Friends meetings are often like this (only without the toilet jokes).
angel, Mar 01 2005

       Get on a commuter train anywhere in the known universe. Nobody will talk to you or respond if you talk to them. Friendly nods of acknowledgement are frowned upon. Even if you appear to be having a heart attack, everyone will still ignore you and probably just look cross and rustle their newspaper.
squeak, Mar 01 2005

       Of course I like this idea [+]. [link]
contracts, Mar 01 2005

       I can go for hours being silent, it's part of my nature. But if I got together with a group *just* to be silent for the duration of the meeting, I'd probably start a chain of giggles (ending in hoots and guffaws) because of the sheer --I don't want to use the word 'stupidity', but I think I'm going to have to-- stupidity of the thing.
Machiavelli, Mar 01 2005

       What Machiavelli says. (I do cherish those people with whom I can share silence without feeling uncomfortable, though, but it's usually not a very large group--two, mostly.)
bristolz, Mar 01 2005

       // Why? Social Discomfort. // How do you figure?
yabba do yabba dabba, Mar 01 2005

Worldgineer, Mar 01 2005

       I don't have a problem with silence other than knowing that other people are uncomfortable with it. I like my silence. I wasn't aware that any other people were like that. Sigh, all that effort to be sociable...wasted.
half, Mar 01 2005

       Yabba Do, By social discomfort I mean those little nagging feelings that lead you to light a cigarette or move your hand through your hair, or readjust your tie, you know the kind of thing. You don't do them when you are alone, or at least not for the same reason. I have not thought this through so hard that it is an exact science, but it strikes me time and again how a lot of our behaviour is governed by this social discomfort.   

       Bristolz, What I'm hoping to achieve eventually Is what you have in a one on one situation, shared with more people. It might be a strange analogy but most of us have sex with one person at a time my idea would be akin to an orgie. Most of us don't want to participate in an orgie but you have to admit: it would be an intense experience. And allthough most of us have not done it, most of us have seen it on video.
zeno, Mar 01 2005

       But as [squeak] points out, most of us have done it. Um, sitting quietly with others, that is.
Worldgineer, Mar 01 2005

       Nice link contracts. We were thinking in the same direction there. I just think there is something pure about enjoying someones presence in silence.
zeno, Mar 01 2005

       I was trying to remember a French proverb about silence my grandmother used to say, so I did a google search on it. I couldn't find that particular one, but I found this little gem: Silence is the greatest ornament in a woman. (Latin proverb)
Machiavelli, Mar 01 2005

       I don't find that too gem-like myself. Harkens from the "seen but not heard" days, it seems to me.
bristolz, Mar 01 2005

       Sorry, [bris]. I was being facetious by using the term 'gem.'
Machiavelli, Mar 01 2005

       Ever been at a Chinese meeting? Non-westernized, that is. They have long pauses just to sit and think (and sip green tea). It’s a cultural norm, but drives Americans crazy thinking that there must be something wrong if dialogue is discontinuous. I’ve seen people make major concessions while operating under the assumption that no immediate response is a negative response, and feeling a need to fill the void with their own voice.
Shz, Mar 01 2005

half, Mar 01 2005

       My ex-boyfriend was the silent type of person. He used to divide people in two kinds: those who find silence ackward and uncomfortable (and constantly bring up stupid conversation topics just to break the silence) and those who can sit quietly in front of each other without feeling stupid. Obviously, he liked the second kind better.   

       I used to tell him that neither are wrong or right, they're just different; one group communicates their insecurities with words and the other shut up because of them.   

       I think that the need to communicate with others is a natural urge. I couldn't be part of one of these groups you're proposing [zeno]. Still, some people would find it atractive, so I'll remain neutral.
Pericles, Mar 01 2005

       Hmmm, you drive a hard bargain, [half]. Tell you what - I'll throw in a frozen entree slush puppy machine for free, but that’s my final offer.
Shz, Mar 01 2005

| .0 .0 |
| .. . > |
| .\__/. |
Ling, Mar 02 2005

half, Mar 02 2005

       Nono, that's just fine, it's different from normal western social behaviour so we cannot expect popularity. Thanks for your support, [TheRoberts]
zeno, Mar 02 2005

       // I just think there is something pure about enjoying someones presence in silence//   

       Yes there is, but to enjoy being with someone, silent or not, you have to get to know them a bit first to find out if you *do* want to sit with them in silence.   

       You are proposing a group meeting where nobody talks and so never finds anything out about each other. I’m not saying silence doesn’t have it’s attractions, I just don’t see the point of the group.   

       I think sitting in a circle, deliberately not talking and concentrating on how enjoyable it is to be sitting in a circle and not talking would ruin the magic.
squeak, Mar 02 2005

       It would be a good group for Marla Singer and Tyler Durden ;)
NeoPiter, Mar 02 2005

       Would sign language be banned?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Mar 02 2005

       Nice idea. I think I'll have the local chinese community round for tea on Saturday. We might chat, we might not.
wagster, Mar 02 2005

       agree with [UB], meditation, and therapy groups, silent prayer, subway rides, and [contract]s wonderful restaurant make this all baked. and [zeno], you are a word lovin' guy/gal, I think you would find this difficult.
dentworth, Mar 02 2005

       Yes, that's beautifull [Wagster].   

       Signlanguage is out, but so is meditation.   

       The host makes tea, you sip it quietly and enjoy your private thoughts. It doesn't have to last more than an hour or so. Just a moments peace and quiet shared with your group.   

       I think in the end you will find out more about eachother than you are now inclined to think. Not the usual stuff perhaps, like where they work or howmany children they have. But maybe some other stuff. Like who is allways courteous, who is to shy to make eyecontact, who makes eyecontact all the time. I'll bet you will have a preference for some and not like others so much, based on what?   

       People fall in love all the time over the phone or even over the internet in a chatbox, really they do, and they haven't even seen eachother. We do not rely so much on a full range of sensory input so much to get to know eachother. A lot of the time we hang out with, marry, have an argument with the image we formed of someone instead of the real person. Because it isn't easy to allways really listen to eachother and give attention to eachother.   

       In this group we play with these concepts by eliminating on factor of cummunication.   

       Would it frighten you if I made eyecontact with you for no known reason? Be honest. Would you feel it was a contest or would you enjoy seeing straight in to another persons soul.
zeno, Mar 02 2005

       To Unabubba and Dentworth and others of the same opinion.   

       Meditation is not allowed, it is not a religious experience, it is different from being on the train because they might speak and anyway everybody is completely locked inside themselves.   

       This idea is for a group of people to come together and enjoy eachothers presence, to communicate with eachother yes, but not to speak or use signlanguage.   

       This is a new and original thought, an invention for something to do, very much similar to a game or other social event.
zeno, Mar 02 2005

       [Absinthe] good point   

       ....<unobtrusively flicks V sign at [zeno] who is hogging the best cushion>
squeak, Mar 02 2005

       <settles himself with great theatrical display of immense bodily comfort>
zeno, Mar 02 2005

       ...<walks silently over to [zeno] tilts him to one side and removes egg from beneath him>
squeak, Mar 02 2005

       This is a group that would meet for reasons relative to the amount of human contact in their lives; ie. you wouldn't meet after being stranded out in the bush, alone for more than four days. You wouldn't meet for an absolute reason of searching out silence. You get that free with an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
mensmaximus, Mar 02 2005

       <kicks [Squeak] in the butt and manages to do so unobtrusively>
zeno, Mar 02 2005

       ..<launches into (silent) fist-fight with [zeno], all the while marveling at the peaceful feeling one attains when spending quality quiet time with like-minded people>
squeak, Mar 02 2005

       //A lot of the time we hang out with, marry, have an argument with the image we formed of someone instead of the real person. //   

       I certainly hope you are not talking about me dear!!   

       <talks to the wall...again...>
Susan, Mar 02 2005

       //This is the Internet, no one 'owns' it//   

       [TheRoberts], this is a site, on a server, connected to the internet. [Jutta] owns it, and pays for it, and that's something to remember.
contracts, Mar 02 2005

       Nope, I was politely correcting what appeared to be a misunderstanding, regarding a site that somebody invests a lot of time, effort, and money into, for no return. <edit> I apologize if I sounded rude.</e>
contracts, Mar 02 2005

       Contracts was indeed just politely doing his thing, he's like that.   

       I would like to stress, however, TheRoberts has a point and a right to defend himself when senior halfbakers try to tell him off.   

       <launches right back into fistfight marvelling why he did not post a fightgroup idea>
zeno, Mar 02 2005

       According to your original description, the problem you are trying to alleviate is social awkwardness, caused by being unsure of what to say. Your group eliminates that quandry by prohibiting speaking. But socially awkward people will still feel awkward if they have to decide how much eye contact to make, and with whom, what facial expression to use, and how to sit. If you really want to liberate people from decisions and awkwardness, you need rules about eye contact, facial expression, and posture as well as speaking.   

       I think that people doing some activity together in silence would be less awkward than people just sitting together in silence. Maybe monks in silent monestaries feel as you do, that enforced silence reduces awkwardness, but they are silent in their ACTIVITIES.   

       How about eliminating awkwardness by having everyone wear a giant bag over their heads/bodies? Except then, there would be nothing to look at. And it wouldn't help people who are uncomfortable about body odor.
robinism, Mar 03 2005

       changed my vote, (you're welcome), for several reasons:   

       to make up for accusing you of being DesertFox, and/or TheRoberts   

       because people really do need to shut up and listen, esp [zeno] gawd you're yacky   

       because it's good therapy to deal with the accusatory voices some of us hear in our heads.I.E. in order to reach out to others, we must learn to love ourselves.
dentworth, Mar 03 2005

       I'm yacky am I? That really made me laugh. Nicest thing anybody said to me all day.   

       [Robinism] This idea is NOT to take away all of the, or part of the, discomfort, or to liberate people from dicisions and awkwardness, as you so beautifully put it. The idea is to play with the concept of this discomfort.   

       I think the silencegroup would provide a sort of training to let go of these little nagging doubts about ourselves in public.
zeno, Mar 03 2005

       Okay, now I really don't understand. That last annotation seems to contain totally contrary statements as to the purpose of this idea.
half, Mar 03 2005

       I think that all of the above (with the exception of 1/2) demonstrates how none of this community would join this group.   

       <fingertips> ommmmmm! </fingertips>
po, Mar 03 2005

       I would. It just strikes me as a nice thing to do.
wagster, Mar 03 2005

       [po] <fingertip to lips> Shhh! </ftl>
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Mar 03 2005

       wag, yeah but would you shut up for one minute? :)
po, Mar 03 2005

       I think perhaps we should allow laughter though.
zeno, Mar 03 2005

       Oh good! Then I'd be happy to join the silence (but laughing) group!
Machiavelli, Mar 03 2005

       I like this idea - even if it's just an attempt to make the rare joy of silent company more acceptable. Many of us already manage to do it while we watch a movie or the TV. (Though many of us don't)
zen_tom, Mar 17 2005

       If this idea really appeals to you, [zeno], then bake it. Set up a basic web site describing the concept and the rules, take an ad out in the paper, and show up somewhere (a library might be appropriate). I bet others would be intrigued enough to attend. Let us know how it goes.
Worldgineer, Mar 17 2005

       You could start a virtual quiet room. It would be like the halfbakery or a chat forum, except that no one would be allowed to post anything.
wagster, Mar 17 2005

       [Worldgineer], thanks for your support. I'm thinking about it. But I'm soooo busy.   

       [Wagster], made me laugh.
zeno, Mar 18 2005

       I once suggested to my now ex-sister in law that this should be how we related to each other. That is, we should meet and be friendly, e.g. make each other meals, go to see films and so forth, in fact all the usual social things friends do together, but that we should never speak to each other, because as soon as we attempted to have a conversation it would descend into argument. However, we couldn't agree to do this because i suggested it verbally, so i had to give up on associating with her at all.
nineteenthly, Mar 18 2005

       [EDJr] Classic!
zen_tom, Mar 18 2005

       Me and my boyfriend would love this, nobody would be able to complain until the session's over... [+]
froglet, Mar 18 2005

       Thought you were a boy, [Froglet], then again, you still might be.
zeno, Mar 20 2005

       [Zeno] - that's two assumptions you've revealed in one sentence!
Basepair, Mar 20 2005

       I have nothing to say about this idea...
the_jxc, Mar 21 2005

       Sorry to disappoint [zeno], I'm a girl, however much it pains me to say it (all the good oponents at judo are boys!)   

       [the_jxc] You said it all.
froglet, Mar 21 2005

       Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep. The idle soul shall suffer hunger.   

       Proverbs 19:15   

daseva, Jun 27 2008


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