The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

Talking also means listening

Lori Mangan and Lori Mangan

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Do you have a date for Valentine’s Day? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Maybe you are tired of the dating scene and the small talk that comes along with it. Maybe you don’t want to listen to a date talk about himself all night. Or maybe, it’s the other way around.

A long time ago, back in the 20th century, people used to have conversations – deep ones, and they used to be face-to-face. Back when there were no cell phones, much less phones at all, people spoke in person. Before there were computers and e-mail and instant messaging, people actually looked each other in the eye and had long, give-and-take, meaningful dialogues.

People used to go get a cup of coffee and talk. They used to go for walks and talk. People used to just plain talk. Now, if friends do happen to pass each other on the street, one might call out, over their shoulder, something about dropping the other one a line.

Although technology is wonderful and has brought many advantages in many areas of life, including communication, I blame it for the fall of the conversation. This lack of social interaction has resulted in adverse effects on what little discussion we now partake in.

People just don’t know how to hold a conversation anymore. They simply write e-mails to others about what is going on in their lives and then at the bottom, if they remember, they’ll add a “How are you doing?” They are so used to being isolated in their own self-absorbed worlds that they forget that others might have something to talk about too.

You see, conversation was once known to be an exchange between two or more people. But today, many times it consists of one friend talking about himself the entire time. Really, though, who doesn’t like talking about themselves? Why else would people pay hundreds of dollars an hour to sit on a couch in an office and talk about – you guessed it – themselves?

I’ve noticed, while trying to converse with some people, that while I’m taking my turn and chatting about myself, the other person will often be politely smiling and nodding, their mind running through the list of things they need from the grocery store or what their plans are for the weekend. Then, once I redirect the conversation back toward the other person, their interest is peaked again. All of the sudden, they are talking up a storm. Try it. You’ll see.

Their clubs and hobbies are the best. Their accomplishments are the ones that matter. Their children are smarter than yours and always will be. What they had for breakfast is more important than you having reached a major goal in your life. They are not coming out and saying these things, but it is undeniably obvious.

If you are finding yourself wondering if you are one of these such offenders, rest assured that most likely you are not. Those people are oblivious to the fact that they dominate every conversation. They are oblivious to the fact that they make it crystal clear that only things that relate to them are important and everything anyone else says, unless of course it pertains to them, is trivial and meaningless.

Please don’t let your feelings get too hurt, though. It’s really not their fault; they’re just not used to having to think about anyone else. Just keep on listening to them and maybe, just maybe, one day they’ll return the favor.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Talking also means listening