Monday, March 11, 2013

It’s a Sad Day When Facebook is a Better Listener By: Karen Pilarski

Have you ever walked down a hall and someone passes you by and says “Hi, how are you?” They don’t stop to wait for the answer. In fact before lips part to make a sound the person is long gone. Another scenario is mumbling out a response such as “Ok, I guess.” The person responds with “That’s good” as they quickly vanish from sight. I wonder why people seem to care less now. Even Facebook is courteous and asks how I’m doing. It seems there are more responses coming from a white text box than an actual human being. What happened to the art of listening?

Listening requires more than just hearing words and nodding. It requires ‘listening’ to the other person’s non verbal cues. Is the person covering their face as if to say they want to hide from everyone? Is the breath full of long deep pauses? It is understandable each person’s world is full of commotion and noise. Constant beeping of phones and blinking messages in the email take up time. For that troubled soul, all that is needed is a sympathetic smile or just simply asking how they are and waiting for an answer. I would think a person could take the second to do this.

I went to the doctor today and it might as well been done over the phone or via email. The doctor didn’t ask what was new and just wanted to get the general exam done. I’ve been to this doctor for years! I mentioned I felt run down and tired and the doctor simply just mentioned “Oh, well I’ll check your blood tests.” There was no asking if I have been stressed or having lack of sleep. The doctor didn’t listen. The doctor just wanted to get through with exam quick and go to the next appointment.

When a person is constantly ignored they become upset and that built up frustration can explode. I was working in a job where people just cared about themselves and their own lives. They wanted people to ask how they were doing but the sentiment wasn’t reciprocated. When I would try to discuss a problem or issue it was swatted away like an annoying fly. One day I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I literally went into my boss’s office and said I quit. I wasn’t done, I proceeded to sob. Sob in my boss’s office. Major Oprah ugly cry. Half of my makeup ended up in streaks down my face. He didn’t have a tissue.  Luckily he closed the door and just let me vent. The flood gates were open and I told him about how badly my colleagues were treating me, how unappreciated I felt and that I felt no one cared about what was going on with me. He just stared and didn’t say a word. We talked and I took back my emotional resignation. I felt better because finally, someone didn’t just turn a cheek.

I think this is the allure of social media. It seems when you put yourself and your thoughts out there people give an immediate response. Yet it seems a bit fake and forced. When a status is ‘liked’ do you really know what the person is feeling? On Twitter, a link to an article is posted. What was the thinking behind posting it? Texting is the same way. I had a friend text and asked if I was okay after canceling our plans. I texted yes and she replied “Really?” I love her like a sister but call if you really want to know. Hearing my voice is a sure fire way to know if I’m really okay. Yes, I was really okay in case my readers or my bff are curious.

Before cell phones and instant messaging we had these cool things called phones. They were attached to a spiral cord. You had to sit in the house on the phone. The cord would become bunched up and twisted. Time was spent trying to solve the puzzle of undoing the tangled mess. I recall crying my heart out to sincere friends on the other line. If the beep of call waiting would sound, it was simply ignored. Of course you would hear about it from your angry mother or moody older sister. The punishment and nuisance was worth it to have someone really hear you and feel those emotions. Tomorrow when you pass a person in the hall give yourself a five second delay and listen to what comes after “How are you?”