Hard of Hearing

April 26, 2011


It is tough to speak so you are heard these days.

Hang on a sec… I need to check this. It might be something important.

Now, where were we. Oh yea…

Like I was saying,  maybe the person you are talking to is online while you are on the phone with them and they’re trying to figure out which emails need to be dealt with when because the barrage never stops so, like, you understand, I hope, nothing personal, but they have to work at it constantly. And this kind of multitasking happens, especially during meetings when you are trying to harness the creative power of the group, but it is dripping off the conference table, diffused like so much runny cheese) as everyone checks their fantasy football leagues, or face book posts or texts their boyfriend. Sometimes, while they are speaking with you on the phone, they are unaware that the clicking of their fingers on the keyboard can be heard through their speaker phone.

There are social implications of technology. And our always on, always changing, ever-more-options-at-your-fingertips world requires new ways of interacting.

We just haven’t figure out how to speak so we can be heard.

It has always been rude to speak with someone else when you are already engaged in conversation.  But that convention of conversation disappeared with the advent of call waiting (the “I like talking to you, but some other, better, more important offer just came along technology.”)

This is not about getting someone’s attention (these days people are always plugged in and more-or-less attentive to one or more things simultaneously) or raising the volume (screaming at them to break through the background noise) or even saying something that is particularly interesting or important to them (how could you really know…  their point of reference changes constantly, thank goodness).

Even if they are standing next to you, the brains are elsewhere… and the trend is getting worse.

The management gurus call it multi-tasking.  The less-than-kind call it distraction. I really think much of it is boredom.

Look. Its the same ole, same ole.  More inputs, please!

People, People.  Can I get a little focus?

I used to preach to writers and producers (and clients)  that three messages are all a person can absorb when watching a video with a purpose, what with shortened attention spans brought on by multiple media competing for personal attention.

I have changed my tune.  I don’t think a communication these days can contain more than one important point. And it has to be repeated over and over again to get through.

People are too distracted and disjointed to receive it the message the  first time, let alone process it.

Advertisers know this and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat. It is the way you speak to the masses. Tell ’em what you are going to tell ’em, tell ’em, then tell ’em again.

Parents know this as well.

Pick one message.

Stay on point.

Repeat until received.

Media awareness and critical thinking are crucial for us as individuals. Understanding the context of the conversation. Knowing the goals and the biases of those who are directing messages in our direction. Hearing. Listening.  Considering.

Sometimes, in order to hear, you need to unplug. And actually use your human brain to process, instead of relying on the computational power of ever more powerful computers, processing more data, that it throws in your direction… constantly.


Previous post:

Next post: