listening is a lost art.

 

     I remember as a young kid trying to figure out why my grandfather was always yelling. It didn’t matter what subject he was discussing or if it was a simple question like “can you get me a glass of water”? I finally got my grandmother to disclose the fact that she thought he was hard of hearing. He also would over talk anyone around him who was trying to have a conversation, simply because he couldn’t hear them. Once I understood the problem, I started yelling when I talked to him since hearing aids were out of the question because he didn’t think he had an issue. It seems that a lot of individuals that are on TV now with talk shows or news programs have my grandfathers problem with one exception, they don’t have a hearing problem! They shout, and over talk any one in their path.

     When did yelling become so popular. Oh, not everyone does it. But a great many do. Listening and responding thoughtfully to what someone is saying is fast becoming a lost art. It seems much more important to get your two cents in even if it doesn’t make much sense. A couple of weeks ago I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher and it was virtually impossible to understand what anyone was saying due to the constant interruptions from the combined guests. Whenever I watch Piers Morgan and he puts a panel of experts on to noodle on the subject he’s focusing on, I immediately turn it off. It would be informative if they were actually having a debate, but it often sounds like a bar room brawl. Why not hand them boxing gloves at the beginning of the show? Morgan does try to create some order amongst some of the more pugilistic guests, but they simply keep going as if their life depended on it.

    The yelling is often combined with an angry look. So many of these individuals’ faces appear perennially pissed off.. There are a couple of women, one of whom is a lawyer and seems to represent a lot of celebrities, who has combined a strident voice with a snarky look. Is the yelling and angry looks become the norm because in order to get attention today you need to yell? Let’s face it we’re inundated  with information overload and a lot of people are vying for the same audience  I either have to yell louder than everyone else or maybe I should just wear a thong and carry a megaphone. Or just maybe we should go back to being respectful towards one another and stop trying to be the center of the universe.

Can you hear me or your cell phone in the way?

Yesterday my partner and I went to a nearby restaurant for a leisurely lunch. Directly across from us were two men waiting to be served. The waitress brought their food but was clearly having difficulty trying to put it in front of one of her customers since he was totally consumed with his cell phone. He finally put it aside long enough to take a couple of bites of food. However, after a few minutes he returned to what appeared to be an obsessive need to make sure he had not gotten any new messages. Now you might be thinking “why am I not engaged in eating my own food and paying attention to my mate, instead of preoccupied with another diner with a cell phone addiction”? Well, more than likely it’s because I am still at the place where it is hard for me to understand how we arrived at the place where some people believe it is alright to ignore who you’re with in deference to being with someone whose somewhere else. I am still in awe of how and when it became acceptable to ignore the people we’re with so that we can scroll, and troll the tech highway for voicemail or texts. Perhaps he was an emergency room physician or a CIA operative waiting for news on a possible plot to take over the restaurant. But then there must be thousands of individuals with similar job descriptions because the behavior I witnessed is rampant. I felt badly for his companion who kept trying to engage in conversation but could not seem to get through his friends need to be connected to his Smartphone, which in this case made him appear stupid. He finally gave up and simply focused on his food which I’m sure was more exciting than his lunch mate. I really think that eventually people will be making reservations at restaurants for themselves and their cell phones. Maybe they’ll be a small high chair designed just for the phone so that it doesn’t get any food on it, or perhaps they’ll be booths that are soundproofed so that you can talk as loudly as you want and chew your food at the same time. There are so many possibilities! Who knows perhaps we’re in the middle of the “Twilight Zone” and cell phones will reproduce themselves and kill us off. But then, who would be left to say “Can you hear me?”. Now I’d miss that, wouldn’t you?