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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,889

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No One's Listening

Okay, that's (maybe) an exaggeration. A little hyperbole.

A very little, as I realized today when helping a colleague find an illustration for an article on communications.

I showed him how to go to one of many excellent royalty-free image websites online, and suggested he search on the term "listening".

You might guess what happened.

Or maybe not: The search results returned multiple pages showing image after image after image after image of people wearing ear buds or headphones, holding phones or iPods or with other playback devices.

Individually, or sitting next to one another with matching headphones, clearly sharing some lovely playback experience, how nice. One showed a whole family watching a giant-screen teevee, all wearing headphones.

Oh, yeah... there were a few pics in there of audiences listening to a speaker or music performance.

About two pages in we actually got a suitable photograph of two people in conversation, one person talking, the other focusing on the talker's face, with an expression that seemed to indicate engagement or interest.

It was definitely one of those things that made me, anyway, go "Hmmmmm...."

And the corollary thought that popped into my mind underlined it further:

When was the last time I had a real conversation via phone?

Probably more recently than many people, as my stupid phone doesn't allow texting, and many family members live in other states. They know if they want to communicate, they have to actually ::groan:: make a voice call or ::groan:: actually write an email.

Even so, I can count the number of longer-than-ten-minutes live voice-to-voice phone conversations I had over the holidays on the fingers of one hand.

I used to have huge long distance bills, and not count the cost, because I loved staying in touch, hearing peoples' feelings in their voices, laughing together, all the the interactions that depend not on reading and typing, but on listening. And being listened to.

I know from work in the human services that listening is immensely powerful in forming human connections. And that human connections are immensely powerful in creating and sustaining communities.

Is anyone listening anymore?

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