Is listening a lost art? Has technology made us poor listeners? Technology has increased reading material significantly. But reading isn’t the same as listening.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that I can find the information I need in milliseconds and that I can write to friends and family and get a response with only a delay of minutes rather than days or weeks. It has made me more productive in my work. But computers have also made me impatient. I’ve come to expect a quick response in everything. It takes too long to write out a check at the grocery store so I slide my card. When it takes longer than 10 seconds for the receipt to print I’m tapping my toe. 10 seconds! Really? Sitting in traffic was excruciating until someone invented texting. We’ve become computers! We multitask every moment of the day! How the heck does anyone sleep? You can’t multitask sleep!
Is speed really that important? If I am multitasking, am I multitasking the right things; or the best things? Every moment presents a choice. As a wise man recently suggested, we not only have a choice between good and evil but also of “good, better or best”. Are we using technology to strengthen our family? Or is it tearing us apart? I saw a disappointing scene in the overflow section of church last summer. A family, who I thought was very close-knit, was sitting in front of us. There were plenty of empty seats so the 5 of them were spread out over 8 seats. As the speaker got a little dry the cell phones and tablets came out. In the overflow, we watch the speakers in another part of the building from a monitor. So they didn’t have to hide their devices from a speaker looking at them. The youngest is 4 and didn’t have a cell phone or tablet. She first leaned on Dad, then Mom, then each sister without the desired response. Then she started over. Maybe they were all reading scriptures but they weren’t all on the “same page” and someone was left out.
Since I first taught 7 year-olds in Primary I’ve liked the saying, “God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth to be used in that proportion.” But I’ve always felt like I’ve had a lot to say and didn’t know how to say it. Since the advent of the internet and I’ve discovered blogging, it feels like I’ve found my voice. I started out using it to share wildlife photos with my family but noticed non-family paying attention. I think the saying needs an amendment: “but He also gave me 10 fingers!” The added attention gave me courage – or maybe a false feeling of fame. Social media makes it possible for each of us to live like a rock star or movie star.
Recently I’ve thought, “What I have to say is probably not as important as what I need to hear.” I’m not an eloquent speaker. Even after a casual conversation I walk away thinking I needed to say something different and sometimes follow it up with a well-thought-out email. I’m sure my email has incredible wisdom in it. (hahaha) Social media gives us the impression that everyone cares about what we have to say; or at least, more people than I knew before. (If I was younger I’d think a lot more people care about my looks based on statistics of my selfies. – gag!) My statistics tell me how many people were “reached” or “liked” or “shared” what I had to say. This is not a satisfying voice: To put thoughts out there and wait to see if anyone likes it or comments on it. Has blogging changed my focus from listening to speaking? Even most (not all) of the comments I get are strangers paid to sound interested in my post so others will see their avatar and click on it because they are advertising something. How ridiculous is that! I don’t “accept” those.
I worked with a guy once who had had a near death experience. He talked about meeting Christ and having the choice to come back. I asked him what he learned from it. He said that loving people is the most important thing we can do in this life and that we should pay attention to what is right in front of us.
Technology can either improve our connections with others or it can disconnect us. It all depends on how we use it. The rising generation might be lacking some listening skills if we don’t help them navigate this sea of technology.
God made some beautiful creatures. We only get to see the male common mergansers in the winter months. He’s just takin’ care of business!