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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Can You Just Pay Attention?

There's a trend these days wherein people sit in meetings, conference, or speeches sending Twitter messages quoting what the speaker is saying. Some of my friends, and tens of thousands of others, do it. Frankly, I don't like it one bit. There is nothing about sending fragments of what anyone is saying that can possibly come close to capturing the message of any speaker. What's more, when we filter through what we are hearing searching for "tweet-bits" we can send out, we aren't really listening to what's being said - and how many problems have their origins in people not listening?

I can't count the number of times after giving a sermon or a talk someone will come up to me, grinning from ear to ear, and tell me they just loved how I said "xyz." I sure am glad they got something they could use from what I said, but more often than not I never did say "xyz" or anything even close to it. Now, that's fine with me, but can you imagine how much more lost in translation our messages are if someone is tweeting them as we are speaking? The world can wait for whatever important information we glean from the meetings, conferences, and social events we attend. In fact, the world will be rewarded for its patience by receiving a tweet that is at least peripherally related to what we said.


We already spend far too much time not listening to what's is being said. We formulate our response to the statement of friends and loved ones before they have finished their thought. We participate in a culture that actually encourages multi-tasking, which fragments our attention even more than it already is. We want everything - even information - now, right now, and so the information we receive often isn't even completely formulated in the speaker's mind before we start not listening and formulating our response. Is it any wonder our relationships are mired in communication problems? We have forgotten how to communicate!


In the end, it's a matter of mindfulness. Do we want to be here, now, and experiencing life, or would we rather be distracted, deluded and completely ineffective? If Twitter is any indication, its the latter! Count me out.

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