Published on February 7th, 2012 | by Alex Hum0
Lifestyle: Are we are losing our listening skills?
Julian Treasure speaks about communication in this day and age in a recent Ted Talk, Lifestyle contributor Alex Hum breaks it down and explores the topic.
A presentation on TED Talks by Julian Treasure presents a notion pertinent to our generation: that we are losing our ability to actively listen and process the things that we hear into something meaningful and useful.
Treasure says that we spend “roughly 60 per cent of our communication time listening”, and we only absorb 25 per cent of that 60. That is a pretty crappy looking statistic; it doesn’t reflect on us very well.
This happens because the world is getting louder and louder. First-world countries continue to expand and urbanize, building structures that reach higher and higher up. More roads are built to accommodate all the cars that need them. Shops and restaurants flash in bright neon lights to compete with all the other establishments, all of them also using bright neon lights.
All these distractions divert our attention. We are being over-stimulated, and with our attention splitting itself constantly both visually and in audio, we stop retaining information.
What does that mean? Everything that is external to our being, the outside world, is making it more and more difficult for us to listen properly because we are constantly overwhelmed with information.
At the same time, we are the generation that is immersed in our headphones. iPods have been the norm for years, earphones that are at least reasonably good are an imperative, and headphones are getting bigger and more badass. We hide in our own headphones not only because we like to choose what we listen to, but because we don’t want to listen to what the world is trying to force us to listen to.
“In this scenario, nobody is listening to anybody”.
As this problem continues to be ever pervasive, we become desensitized to the quieter, subtle things. Take a moment to close your eyes and really listen for everything that is happening around you. You’ll likely hear cars that you ignored, you might overhear a conversation that you didn’t realize was going on, regardless of whether or not you can make out the words. The whirring of my laptop fan right now is deafening. Think about how much we miss because we don’t know how to listen anymore.
Most of us are university students – think about what this means for our demographic specifically. We are losing the ability to focus in lecture and retain information. More and more often we ask our friends to repeat themselves because we weren’t listening, or for some reason, what we heard did not process fully. We ignore sounds that can be pleasant; personally I’m fond of soft keys clicking and clacking on the keyboard. I spend hours every day typing yet it is only at the end of the day as I write this, that I’ve heard these keys today for the first time.
Our losing our hearing as an entire generation is a serious problem that will cause all kinds of communication failures now, and at this rate, even more in the future.
Let’s try not to get there. Listen for each other, listen for the unspoken, listen for the subtleties in the environment.
Sound is beautiful, and it’s a shame to think that we’re losing it.