Listening is a talent just like drawing a picture. It takes practice. Today’s generation isn’t taught to listen with the intent to hear and learn, just to regurgitate fiction and repeat. Today’s generation can’t hear over the “hear me, see me, be me” selfie poses. Instantly gratified by a thumbs up or smiley emoji response. There isn’t time to listen when all you’ve got to do is Snapchat or Instagram your face where anybody will respond. To have anybody see but to have nobody listen. Shallow and yet satisfyingly addictive. A cycle of instant satisfaction created while, the art of true relationship building is lost.
Today’s generation can’t listen with the intent to understand because they can’t hear over the noise. They haven’t been taught to turn down the volume of gratification long enough to listen.
Our grandparents wrote letters about long-anticipated visits and then vacationed at the homes of family members, eating at tables of reunion. Relishing relations and relationships created through bonds of communication. Taking the time to see each other face to face. Listening to stories, tales of youth. Reminiscing with the intent to understand wounds created by wars and decades of challenges for hands made of calluses. Living life by the sweat of one’s brow without constant entertainment and non-stop media stimulation.
Today’s generation can’t sit still. Their minds are running full throttle from the moment they awake to a blaring alarm and a “hurry-up” mentality. They don’t know the sound of the quiet breeze of leaves rustling in the trees. They can’t hear because they can’t see with their eyes zoomed in on their phones. Screens constantly bombarding them for their attention and time. Their minds can’t stay quiet long enough to hear because they’re fueled by sugar caffeinated drinks and coffee lattes. Artificial flavors creating artificial minds of thinking and instant responses without the patience to hear.
Have you ever watched a Kindergarten class of children jump to their feet when asked a question? Some blurting out an answer before they even raise their hands. I want attention. I need attention. They’re screaming for attention. They barely have heard the question and yet they already know what they think we need to hear. That’s how it feels today. That everyone thinks they know the answer before the questions have even been asked.
We are led by impatient examples, lacking time, and with “too busy to hear” parents, who are either struggling to make ends meet or can’t take the time to be bothered by the silly ramblings of a child. So, the new generation learns that listening isn’t important and one’s time is too precious to share. Yet, they are constantly pushed to be #1, to be skinny, perfect, right all the time. Desperate, they turn looking for direction and get lost in the Internet’s fountain of influence. They finally feel heard and then the cycle repeats itself.
We must stop. We must listen to one another and hear to understand without having to know all the answers or be right. The key to this is a sacrifice. A sacrifice of our time, our attention and sometimes even our pride. It takes patience to hear with understanding. If we want to be successful individuals and have more meaningful relationships, we must will ourselves to turn off our media and look at one another in the eyes.
It’s okay to not know all the answers. We don’t have to be right a hundred percent all the time. If we slowed down and listened and understood one another maybe we’d find that we all have colors unique and different. That each generation can learn from one another. Children can be taught. Parents can see. That the tapestries of relationships can be woven into beautiful pieces of art.