I have a “singy” family. I’m a “singy” person. No shower is safe. No empty house or apartment. No vacant sidewalk, or hiking trail. Bluesy rock preferably. The more complicated the better.

Singing more than a few notes to remind others of a theme, violates etiquette during conversation, whether at the table or in the round. (You can look it up.) The reason being, that with a captive audience, one forces attention upon one’s self and interrupts conversation amongst others. It’s a dominance expression. It’s a form of aggression. Because singing is a form of soliloquy – internal voice – that is fine alone, or when it won’t interrupt anyone’s thoughts or speech, or while working together, or at invitation, or when organized by a group, or when that is the purpose of the forum. In other words, when it is not a dominance expression.

Most of us would like to share our emotions by sharing the songs that remind us of evoking them – except that few if any of us share those emotions via the same melody. And among musicians it’s not uncommon to hum or sing a few notes as a part of a conversation. But there is a difference between sharing our emotions and imposing them. Music is precognitive.

Myself, I am extremely intolerant of dominance expressions and I have an OCD problem in that I can only tolerate so much ‘stupid’ or ‘mundane’ speech, or ‘pretentious sentimentality’ before I subconsciously dominate conversations as a self defense measure – especially if I cannot use comedy to interrupt them. I know this. I struggle to control it. I control it when I can by leaving the room, if not the venue. As an autist it is a constant struggle against a profoundly intense impulse.

I usually ask people “Am I talking too much?”, or say “It’s ok to tell me to stop talking.” There is absolutely no way I will be aware of disinterest or incomprehension, and highly unlikely aware of offense. It’s an autist thing. We just have no idea unless that is all we are looking for.

We all have impulses in conversation that we must suppress. We all succeed or fail to varying degrees. It’s all very human. So all of us struggle to maneuver the flow of conversation into safe, familiar, or at least interesting content. And away from unsafe, unfamiliar, frustrating, conflict-creating or offensive content.

We all seek to impose order on a kaleidic universe such that we can find a satisfactory way through our lives.

So this bit of etiquette is another example of why we spend too much time with televisions and not enough time socializing – and then we wonder why the internal voice we share with close family, the television, and the walls is unwelcome in broader group context: we live lifestyles that gives us freedom to be anti-social in many subtle ways, then wondering why we don’t fit in to social situations, and end up lonely. Ergo, norms protect us from this. And we have no norms….
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