Inspection- The Lost Art of Listening

 …and conversational conversing.
 I was arranging to show Harvey Robin Churchill at Wampsville, NY car show with Bill. Bill who?
 You don’t know Bill. I don’t know Bill. And even though he said, “Hi, Ken!” when he answered he doesn’t know me either. He has caller ID.
 Harvey Robin Churchill is our 1963 Studebaker Champ. I have had Inspectionpassion for Studes ever since I bought my first for $25 when I was 15. His name was Harvey too; named by Chris his former owner: a friend of my girlfriend at the time. Millie and I both loved Robin Williams and he is kind of, sort of, robin egg color. Harold Churchill pushed the Lark project through Studebaker. Stude’s truck in the 60s used the Lark cab because they couldn’t afford to redesign their trucks, but they needed to.
 During our conversation I was having trouble figuring out when to “add my two cents” and when it was a pause, or not. This is not uncommon with cell phones, or even just these days. Cell phone conversations can be tough. Also, for a lot of reasons, conversation in society in general has dived deep into chaos and non-communication.
 We half listen if we listen at all.
 We talk over each other.
 We think we know what the other is saying when we haven’t a clue.
 We interrupt each other a lot.
 We think texting and tweeting is actually “talking to,” when at best it’s “talking at:” if that.
 These false assumptions and bad habits follow us when we type, when we write.
 Yes, I include myself. This is no superior pedestal standing: always a tough to bloody near impossible circus high wire act for me.
 As of late I find our attempts to communicate pretty atrocious sometimes. In a lot of our political back and forth people insert meaning that was never intended. “Black lives matter” certainly doesn’t automatically mean other lives don’t. And, as much as it pains me to type the following: “there are good people there” doesn’t necessarily mean all of the people at a protest where Nazis and racists are chanting, “Jew will not replace us,” are “good people.” Or even the majority. The only limitation is least two: “people” is plural. (Otherwise it could be “person.”) You might have to use a high powered microscope to find them, but there could be two. Could be three. Could be… (DON’T PUSH IT!)
 Far too often framing has become our only attempt to communicate and framing is to communicating what slamming a chair over the head of a WWE opponent is to a gentle reminder. If it were only meant for some base, well that sucks, but that would make sense. But framing has become the whole enchilada, the whole taco, the over the top heart burn chili that scorches any desire for having an actual conversation.
 There are many other reasons for this. I think talk shows share some of the blame. The old Firing Line respectful discussion/debate format is long gone. In its place is something more Coliseum-like where those we disagree with become the red meat fed to the mindless, vengeance hungry, audience. Where what rules the day, the week, the years, the airwaves, cable satellite, the internet; is talk over, yell over, insults, name calling (“PINHEAD!!!”), the board op potting down a successful challenger so the talent can seem omnipotent. The left is getting almost as good at it as the right is, so this isn’t just some hate one side rant.
 To be honest it’s getting hard not to do this. Trying to be civil when faced with what are no more than cheap tactics used to avoid actual conversation, used to dominate, is like flashing the peace sign as the bully kicks you over and over again. Pacifism only works when others have a conscience, when they don’t think of those they disagree with as inferior, as stupid, as “____tards.” In the end society walks backwards to the stone age: little more than grunts, grumbles, unintelligible speech, howls, growls and grabbing whatever one wants by any means necessary.
 Tech is making it worse. I find those in 30-ish and under can’t stand read or comprehend complex sentences. Complex thought is greeted by empty stares. Short; almost meaningless, snippets: all they have patience for. Did our parents feel the same about us? Maybe. Is it just getting worse? Well, my Communications education seems to indicate so, and that one of my fav holy Mecca movies Idiocracy is increasingly becoming non-fiction.
 So while tech takes us to new levels of communicating my great, great grandparents might have thought magic, my grandparents consider silly Sci Fi, the actual quality of content it walking backwards into the cave. Maybe Planet of the Apes was predictive only we’re transforming into apes?
 No insult towards actual apes intended. I hear they’re often quite gentle.
 This has been happening for a long time. If you get a chance read the Lincoln/Douglas debates, then watch Kennedy and Nixon. (Watching the Lincoln/Douglas debates is impossible. Guess they “forgot” the TV cameras that day! And EVERY day back then!) Kennedy/Nixon is far more intelligent, thoughtful content laden, but the first shames Nixon and Kennedy. Presidential debates, in my opinion, are hardly debates anymore. Like talk radio they are becoming yell over, talk over, spotlights for well rehearsed, simplistic, talking points and bad behavior.
 Maybe I’m just some old guy grumping. Or maybe not. We shall see… maybe. Unless ET arrives and decides to invite us on board

       Hey, Mr. Spaceman
       Won’t you take me along?
       I won’t do anything wrong
       Hey, Mr. Spaceman
       Won’t you take me along for a ride?
               -The Byrds (Jim McGuinn)

  Knowing my luck it will be a damn cookbook.

                                                           -30-
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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