Inner Monologue Survey

Yesterday my friend was reading a book, and while he was reading it, he looked over to me and asked, "Do you ever have to reread something that you just read?" and a light bulb went off in my head. I responded, "Do you have an internal monologue?" and he said, "Yes!" I asked, "Do your thoughts distract you from reading?" and he said, "They do!"

I had just watched an interview of someone who doesn't experience an inner monologue, or the voice that some of us experience and use to think. They had mentioned that they are a very quick reader, and that they rarely ever daydream. I had heard of people who didn't experience this voice before, and at first it was difficult for me to comprehend what that must be like. However, by the time this video had popped up into my feed, I had lived life a little a longer and experienced times where I had felt grounded in the present moment, and those were times where that voice/internal monologue wasn't so active.

That voice, however, hasn't gone away entirely, and it can be particularly active if I'm anxious, sometimes acting out potential conversations in the future, reenacting conversations in the past, sometimes arguing or reasoning with myself in the form of thoughts. It's the same voice that might keep me awake or say, "Why did I do this or say that?" or "I need to go do 'x' about 'y'." This isn't too uncommon, it seems. However, for many people watching that interview, they seemed surprised how people could live without the presence of that voice, some going as far as to call the interviewee a liar.

As the interview goes on, they talk about how they are able to read very quickly, how they always have to be doing something, how they can answer a question or provide a response without thinking in words what they are about to say. They also mention how they don't recall things said in discussion past the same day, and that they don't really think about the distant past, and how they don't daydream.

The more I thought about this, the more that it seemed to me that the interviewee is a very present person, and is most comfortable and most used to being in the present moment, in the here and now. The interviewer seems, much like myself, to be more fixated on the future, the past, or apt to get lost in thought or in daydreams. It also seemed as if the inner monologue was almost like a coping mechanism, something that could shield the person from the fear or pain of the present moment via a sense of control - that control being the voice used to keep track of and make sense of everything. I could also see how someone who would use this voice to process reality, would also daydream when they're not needing to problem solve - as opposed to someone who doesn't daydream and feels comfortable in the present moment. This made a lot of sense to me.

Of course, I could be totally wrong, and I am very open to that. Just because something sounds reasonable doesn't make it true. So that's why I made this survey, to see if there's actually any semblance of validity behind the idea, before bringing it up with others in daily conversation.

So.. I created an anonymous Google Forms survey that asks about the internal monologue. I'm hoping to reach 1,000 responses before I look at the results to see if there is actually a pattern there or not. I'll report back here when that happens (however long that may take.)

If you'd like to contribute, you can fill out the survey yourself. I don't ask for any person information besides an email address, in order to reduce spam entries. You can find the form here. It would also help if you shared the survey, as reaching 1,000 people could prove difficult for me.

- Onio