I chose to do the second iExamen project today, October 24th. In this assignment, we were asked to speak only with words that are kind, useful, and truthful. Despite the fact that these instructions seemed to reflect actions that should feel natural, I found that I was much less comfortable than I had anticipated. More than anything, this project made me realize how sarcastic I can be. Aside from my initial discomfort, I really enjoyed this project and was able to learn many things from it.
The first legitimate interaction I had today was at lunch with my two friends, Matt and Ryan. I saw them immediately when I walked into Boulder, went to say hello and thought to myself, “is ‘hello’ kind, useful, or truthful?” This is when I realized it was going to be a long day. After coming to the conclusion that hello is a kind thing to say, I greeted my friends and we began our small talk. This is where I had trouble. Throughout our conversation, I had to stop myself from making many sarcastic comments. I do not remember any specifically, but I do remember feeling very restricted with what I could and could not say. I even remember, at one point, my friend Matt laughing and asking me “What are you doing?” I explained to both of them that I was trying to only say things that are kind, useful, and truthful for an English project and they just laughed more. They knew how much I was struggling. Maybe this is just me trying to reassure myself, but one minor flaw that I found with this project for myself is that being a sarcastic person is not necessarily a bad thing. There were so many things that I went to say that I did not consider to be kind, useful, and truthful, but at the same time, I would definitely not consider them mean or hurtful.
Another thing that I found a little uncomfortable was having to be truthful at all times. I am not saying that I am a liar, but the occasional fib can be way easier than telling the truth. One example of this could be when my friend Mike texted me while I was at lunch. Mike goes to LeMoyne College in Syracuse so what he had to say could not have been an emergency, and even if it was, there would not be anything I could do for him. Therefore, I chose to continue eating my lunch and wait to read and respond to his text. When I went to respond to his text later on in the day, however, I naturally went to say something along the lines of “Oh sorry, I thought I responded to this before.” To me, this would not have been a bad lie, but according to the project, I had to be truthful. I then told him the real story, which was much longer than the text I wanted to send, but he really did not seem to care.
A little later on in the day, I began to feel more comfortable with the assignment and saw that I, for the first time in a long time, was only saying kind, useful, and truthful things. Because of how difficult I found this project earlier in the day, I was amazed. My conversations no longer seemed so awkward and I did not have to pause to think about everything that I was about to say. At this point, most of my friends knew about the project and were very entertained. They found it funny because I was not acting like myself.
This project was very interesting and taught me many things about others and myself. While this was intended to be a self-reflective exercise, I couldn’t help noticing how often other people say things that don’t fit the criteria of being kind, useful, and truthful. I was not able to tell when people were not being truthful, but as I was focusing on following the instructions, I became very conscious of how many times my friends would say things that were not kind or useful.