How Your Voice Gives Away and Gives Rise to Meaning
Get your voice back into the driver’s seat in everyday communications to boost your creativity and authenticity
Ever hear a full body opera that brought you to tears? More than the mastery of thousands-hour practice and the life-affirming dedication, if you’ve ever gotten soul punched by a song in a language you don’t even understand, you’ve been moved by the sheer power of voice.
As a product designer and a futurist who likes to keep close tabs on how technologies affect our psyches, I’ve witnessed and researched throughout the digital eras to understand how our attention has meandered as we try to keep up with Moore’s Law. I’ve obsessed about our mind, our habits, and the buttons we constantly push to connect them all.
And I’ve wondered how our voice has incurred some tech debt during these development cycles.
What if we can focus on the quality of our voice to reshape our digital experiences?
For us, it all starts with that first cry.
It’s powerful because our voice transcends words and speech as it unfolds in space and time.
Babies cry at birth as an evolutionary “Hello World!”, codified as a survival instinct to capture the attention of the caretaker. In our own development, that message to the outside world requires constant nurturing and attunement, not only to remain effective to people who can come to our aid, a delivery mechanism of our will, but as the sole method to extend our sociability to build a sense of self and belonging.
With the rapidly evolving mediums that define our primary mode of communication, we have become heavily dependent on the unspoken way in our daily exchanges (the one-way performance based formats such as TikTok and all other social media ‘story’ sharing do not count as the exchange formatting isn’t consistent between sharer and audience).
We Slack each other from across the table, drop text bombs of brevity mixed with symbols to compensate for the lack of voice, and in that unraveling a whole suite of products are created everyday to make us do more of the same. That primordial force which resonates with our motivations and desires is what often gets demoted in the digital age, as automation reigns supreme and our need for speed masks true meaning. We can hide behind some ellipses and a vague emoji. We don’t have to be 100% true to our communications.
People who are more vigilant and aware of these dismal effects have been voluntarily disconnecting from social networks, because they have a natural proclivity towards meaningful relationships and conversations.
What if by giving our inner and outer self a true voice, we can begin to have truer communication?
That energetic stream of communication we can easily detect through tone, pitch, and tempo are sounds that at the time of its birth carries meaning, contents that cannot be downgraded or stereotyped into clichés.
Spoken words are deeds that act immediately on the listener.
We know this because the speech we put our hearts to, sounds convincing as it slices into space to call forth the reality of its content. When we don’t mean something, the insincerity usually doesn’t escape trained ears. When we hear something, it arrives at our ears as a mechanical sound wave darting through the air, it is then transformed into neural action potentials from the ears to our brain. When we use our voice, we imbue our words with action potentials in the same way.
The kind of technologies we need for this wonderful endeavor of human communication that places voice first, is presented only in very limited scope and most of them are tools for productivity. We have an abundance of options to hold meetings online and survey the masses, but we still lack a truly social technology that puts humans and human relationships back in the tech.
We need to see how our communication shouldn’t be measured by the hourglass of clunky and echoing connections, but seen as moments of presence and awareness to how our voices are telling stories where words have faltered.
For-benefit technologies that focus on improving the quality of human conversations are what will make us feel more like ourselves, which in turn helps us sustain our connection to other people.
Instead of hijacking our attention like a high-strung kite, voice-first social technologies can help us recollect our thoughts into a potent stream of real human communication. It can help us break out of the compression of pace, and to challenge a given tempo dictated by weird rules that have formed into daily habits.
It can help us look each other in the eyes, because we have learned that meaning doesn’t come easily just because we’ve learned how to use words. It will give us a forward movement to our days by guiding us to continuously rediscover moments that when examined closely, spring into action potential from dormant disconnection.
The voice is not a stagnant thing. What we use it for and how we use it, becomes a framework that helps us uphold our idea of the self alive. It’s deeply connected to our identity. It cannot be taken over, it has to be reformed and transformed if it is to preserve its power.
If you develop it and nurture it, it will serve as a lifelong guide to human connections and meaning. It will compel yourself and others to be transported by the words it forms. It’s what will keep technology human at its core.
And we should all use it more.
Ivy is building a voice+ platform that harmonizes human + tech to help people adapt and navigate complexity in uncertain times. It improves our social & emotional skills so we can form deeper and more beneficial relationships with ourselves and others. The platform provides a psychologically safe and creative space using our voice, nurtures the theory of mind through different mental states, and turns our presence and resilience into personal mastery — One conversation at a time.