Pleasure of communication

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This text is part of: "I would never send my kids to school" by Piotr Wozniak (2017)

Pleasure of communication is the reward that underlies a natural drive to express one's thoughts. Pleasure of communication should be distinguished from the pleasure of learning and the pleasure of knowing.

The drive to communicate is amplified by the pleasures of learning and knowing. However, it is based on an independent mechanism. We can see its purest expression in prolonged monologues of people, esp. children, who are seemingly uninterested in any feedback. Feedback of conversation can amplify the reward by adding the pleasure of learning.

The pleasure of communication may show in a toddler in private speech. Private speech is an important contributor to the development of speech and intelligence. However, in the modern world, it may be suppressed on the grounds of discipline, esp. in daycare when private speech may be disruptive for others. In older children, endless monologues may be essential for further development, but they are suppressed by general lack of interest in young child's life. They get extinguished in schooling when kids are often demanded to stay still and silent in long stretches of time.

In adulthood, we suppress the pleasure of communication on the grounds of politeness. It is not nice to talk someone's head off. However, in healthy social life, a conversation based on mutual interest can fulfill that role.

Pleasure of communication can reach its heights in the pleasure of brainstorming where rich feedback makes it possible to generate new creative value (pleasure of learning), and express one's own ideas (pleasure of knowing amplified by the boast factor).

Pleasure of communication might have underlain the development of the language. We can see it in apes which show limited interest in expressing their ideas, and even less interest in asking questions. As a result, it is hard to teach an ape a language. The pleasure of learning, which might be phylogenetically older, underlies the learn drive. It might have had its major contribution to the evolution of the neocortex. Similarly, the drive to communicate might have contributed to the evolution of speech.

The evolutionary importance of the pleasure of communication is that it promotes spreading ideas. Even with no feedback, monologues usually revolve around the central passion of an individuals or around the conceptually associated details. From the point of view of that individual, these are usually the ideas worth spreading. Without the drive for communication, there would be no development of the language. This is why this primary drive should be independent of actual learning.

Spreading ideas is as good as spreading seeds. Males may produce a lot of seed with very low impact/conversion ratio. This is still of evolutionary benefit. In early human populations, communicators would bring an advantage even if the majority of the population was not ready to communicate or even to listen. If the learn drive criterion was involved, communication would require a worthy partner. This would slow down the evolutionary change.

See also: Pleasure of learning and Pleasure of knowing.