Who gets the mic?

Is it the loudest voice or the silent hum?

Joel V Zachariah
3 min readMar 30, 2022

I’ve always found group discussions interesting.

The premise of the activity is to engage as a collective and arrive at a conclusion together, by contributing points and building on others. Include this as a placement filtration round, and things get bit more interesting.

Relevant piece of Satire (Source: AIB)

On one hand, you need to prove you’re smarter than the rest. On the other, you need to work as a team. What results is a hodgepodge of power grab for the mic — only to get to keep it for a few seconds before the more confident fiend, my bad, friend takes it.

Take this phenomenon outside the confines of a contained room, and now you have the added variable of public approval. Have an unconventional yet essential point to make? If the crowd doesn’t understand, you better be confident in what you say cause that's where the blind faith votes fall.

Now distribute this mic fight to every household, and you now have to combat the hierarchies in place, making truth further away from your arms reach. And, by some bad luck, if you’re like me who dislikes collisions, kiss goodbye to that mic of yours.

To win this game of mic grab, it takes rapid thinking and eloquent points to win the approval of the majority to retain that mic in your hands. And it is this game that I struggle to win every single day of my life. Unless someone has a positive opinion about you apriori (or has nothing to contribute), they’ll be willing to consider your points. And if valid, they will agree.

I am not cribbing about not being entitled to an echo chamber. I accept (though difficult at times) that I am imperfect and can be wrong. But what disturbs me the most are when (1) common consensus is to not let you have the mic, and (2) reasoned by stating points in repetition in the hopes of hammering the point down my skull.

I can share an example. I believe that one must be worthy of owning something — and that you should avoid seeking that of which you have no use. For example, if all I do is office work, a gaming rig is an overkill. If I have intentions of getting into gaming serious one day, then sure I’ll accept it. But getting it just because you can afford to is unfair — I know it sounds silly but such complex entities were created for a purpose that isn’t found here.

When discussing this with some friends, in one particular repeated dozen times “you don’t have to be worthy to get something — you buy if you want. The creators don’t care what you do with it”. I respect a difference of opinion. What I don’t get along with is the need to repeat yourself (a form of keeping the mic to yourself for longer) and brainwash the audience into your thought process.

Sure, an argument can be made that I need to man up and fight back for the mic, but I know how it feels to get the mic snatched away from me and my conscience won’t let me do that. My hope is to engage in debates with those who (1) understand that they don’t own the mic, and (2) willing to listen and construct on top of it rather than to zone out and think how to outsmart me.

The reason why I write this is because I am starting to keep quite for extended periods of time when in discussions with others. A part of me is scared the mic will be snatched away and I won’t be heard. And it feels futile to bother. When I contribute to someone’s point, they are so soaked up in their narration that they forget there is a listener who also might have points to share.

Another part of me is perhaps scared of displeasing others and being different. And having to repeat myself to clarify my idea (and thus accidentally hypocritically hammering the idea). It hurts to be proven wrong — especially when they take it against you and not let you speak again for long periods. My conversations end in seminars where I am at the listening end for extended periods, and it is emotionally painful.

Hopefully, you can’t relate :)