Humans are amazing creatures. I study people. I watch their behaviors. I am not a creepy stalker, but I do watch, observe, and take notes about fellow humans. I watch people in airports. I notice people in grocery stores. I see others at sporting events, restaurants, and meetings.
In all the places I watch people one thing seems to be the norm… everyone is listening to something. I remember as a child one of my cherished possessions was my small AM transistor radio. I played it all the time. Depending on your age, you may remember the days of people carrying a large boom box on their shoulders to keep their ‘tunes’ right in their ears. And remember the first cell phones? They came in a small suitcase and as you carried it everyone saw an invisible sign of status- you didn’t leave home without it.
Technology changed rapidly to Walkmans and iPods. Noise cancelling headphones soon became the way we listened. It was easy to shut out the entire world and concentrate on the message coming through the headphones.
Everyone has become very tuned in. Tuned in to music, videos, social media, movies, podcasts, and news reports. Humans are always plugged in.
Now everyone carries a minicomputer in their hands disguised as a smartphone. These are attached through the magic of Bluetooth to the input of your choice. The recent trend I have noticed is the one ear headphone. Call it an in-ear headphone, ear pod, earbud, AirPod, headset, or earpiece, but it seems to be cool to wear just one. Sometimes you don’t see the wireless ear device, so you never know if someone is on their phone or talking to themselves. Either way is it good etiquette to interrupt their conversation?
I also observe the dual listener. You know the ones… they are always listening to something through the one ear headphone. If you talk to the person, they don’t remove the ear device. They seem to be dual listening -- they listen to you while listening to whatever the ear device is delivering.
Hello, is anyone really listening?
Is it possible to simultaneously receive, understand and process multiple messages? Has our world become so fast, so busy, and so demanding that this multi-listening is the norm? Is it required to keep up with everything we need to know?
Or are people so overwhelmed with life that we need some kind of white noise in our ears at all times to blur the craziness of life?
Maybe we have all forgotten how to listen. We have forgotten the kind of deep listening that comes from sitting face to face and knee to knee while focusing our attention on another person as they speak. We have forgotten what it feels like to be outside without something in our ear. We have forgotten the pleasure of hearing the birds sing and the sweet sounds of nature.
What if you tried this for a day? Commit to deep listening for one day. No headphones. No multi-listening. Concentrate on one message at a time. Just music. Just the sound of a waterfall. Just a phone call. Just a conversation. Listen to one thing at a time. One person at a time. When you focus and really listen, you may notice that humans are amazing creatures.
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Pennie’s Life Lesson:
Give complete attention to the message you are listening to.
Practice deep listening.
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