Scientists Are Concerned That We're Running out of Things to Say

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Sunday April 16, 2017

I’ve always operated under that assumption there’s no real limit on how many things there are to say. I’m not a garrulous person but I do have a long-time habit of saying a lot of things in writing. New research indicates that my hobby might be costing more than just the electricity used to power my laptop.

Humans have been saying things in some capacity since we crawled out of the primordial slime. Surely if we were going to run out of things to say it would have happened by now, right? Not so fast. Earth’s human infestation has grown more in the past 20 years than it did for the first several thousand years of our species. That means a lot more people lurking around saying things.

The past 20 years have also seen the rise of social media which has helped exponentially increase the rate at which things are said. New social networks seem to pop up every day. People are constantly saying things on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, SnapChat, Blogger, Medium, TalkGator and so on. I just made up that last one but by the time I publish this it will probably exist. That’s how fast social networks appear. You’re not on TalkGator yet? This is 2017, what’s wrong with you?

Hundreds of millions of bloggers, vloggers, podcasters and all variety of people on social media say trillions of things each day. The ancient Phoenicians never could have imagined this volume of communication when they developed their alphabet some three thousand years ago.

Statistical analysis of the said things makes the picture even more bleak. Scientists estimate that no less than 95% of the things that are possible to say are primarily comprised of bullshit. Intelligent, factual and interesting things account for just a few drops in the ocean of things to say. Thus as the saying of things increases so too does the amount of bullshit in the atmosphere.

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Clouds of bullshit arising from things being said in Washington, D.C.

As the saying of new things rarefies, the desire to hear new things grows more intense among the populace. This leaves people more willing to accept the vast quantities of bullshit in which we find ourselves surrounded. Think of it like air quality. Your city might be choked with smog but that doesn’t mean you give up breathing.

We are now approaching what scientists are calling our “communication terminus.” We are saying so many things that if something doesn’t change there will be nothing left to say. Signs of this approaching conversation apocalypse are all around us. One need look no further than the state of modern pop culture to see that we are repeating ourselves with alarming frequency.

Also telling is the staggering amount of content published every day that involves people saying things about how to find something to say. Search the Internet and you can find more of these articles than you could ever possibly read. I see at least two or three such posts in my own Medium feed every day. In fact I'm convinced there are more people saying things about how to say things than there are people saying any other things. What more evidence that we're running out of things to say could you possibly need?

It's hard to imagine what the world will look like if we reach the communication terminus. The success of our species has been largely dependant on being able to say things to one another. Will that ability still serve us when everything we say is stale, rehashed bullshit? Could this be humankind's extinction event?

All is not lost, however, as the same scientists who first discovered this problem are also working on possible solutions. They have not yet found a way to reverse the damage that has already been done but they are working with government officials and private organizations on a public awareness campaign. Their goal is to educate the public about the problem and encourage everyone to develop more conversationally conscious habits.

The simplest way to be part of the solution is to practice a new technique called “shutting the fuck up.” To “shut the fuck up” means to stop saying things. Remember, most of the things you say are likely riddled with bullshit. So when you say things you are not only depleting a precious resource but you are most likely polluting the atmosphere. “Shutting the fuck up” won’t refill the pool of possible things to say but it will help plug the leak.

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Scientists recommend that you “shut the fuck up” at all times except in the unlikely event you have something of actual value to say. So before you hit “post” on that rambling, typo-laden, vapid status update about your kid’s last bowel movement, I suggest you consider the good of our species and kindly “shut the fuck up.”