• Listen. Be still. Take a moment and see how quiet you can be. Technology is a tool, an important one, but don’t let it make you the tool!

It’s a Skill

Listening is a lost skill in our information age. We scan for what we want to see and hear, and then we look for a platform to expose ourselves and say to the world “look at me.” At least a lot of people do! But surely not you, or me! 😃

I saw it first hand last week. I published an article on suicide that I then posted on Facebook. While the majority of people were appreciative and thankful, it still provoked comments and complaints from people who read the first paragraph on why people kill themselves and then went into “look at me” mode. Without finishing the article, they somehow twisted the words on why people commit suicide as promoting suicide! Outrage was proclaimed, yet in their outrage they showed little understanding of suicide and displayed why people who are suicidal are so afraid to talk about it. People are quick to judge, but slow to forgive and often incapable of listening. These commentators turned themselves and others off without even reading the rest of the article. Sadly, to those who reacted before finishing, those unread words showed how you use someone’s desire to kill themselves as a way to give them other options and choices for life. It was advice that a man who runs a suicide prevention group pointed out as being some of the best he’s ever heard. Yet thanks to the vocal minority, the words would not be heard by many who needed them. When you don’t listen, you don’t even know what you are missing.

We are more than a niche

We see this all the time in a variety of ways. Our relationships become shallow, our point of view an echo chamber, an us vs. them mentalities dominate as people engage with each other in a cold digital way. With all this recent talk about Facebook and privacy, remember, they want you to be a label. They want you to label others. That is how advertising works. An advertiser wants to reach a niche group of people to maximize their advertising dollars so that is what Facebook and Google and others do, they create niches which by their very nature are divisive. Trust me, regardless of their propaganda, they love both anarchists and racists, socialists and capitalists, atheists and southern baptists, they are easy to market to and the easier one is to market to the better.

What is the best way to encourage niches? Why, you get people to stop listening to each other in deep ways and program them to listen to only what they want to hear. Don’t read all the instructions, heck, don’t read any of the instructions. Just read and do what you want, you are easier to herd.

Change your programming

How do you become a solution to this crisis? It is easy really, but hard. We must change our programming.

Read a book. Go on a long walk. Have a long talk with a loved one or friend with no technology allowed. Stop to meet a stranger, especially if they are totally unlike you. You will be uncomfortable, which should scare you and give you reason to keep working on it. Listening is a skill, and one of the vital elements necessary for our peace and mental health.

To escape the matrix, you must disengage, walk away, and find a place where you can discover who you and others are without the noise. Use technology as a tool, but don’t let it make you the tool, or even worse, the fool!

April 2, 2018