Thursday, October 4, 2012

Let the Ear Hear

Most folks in the U.S. are aware there was a televised political debate last night between the two "main" candidates. The house hunk watched it while I worked in my office, perforce listening to the give and take. Afterwards, I scanned the various commentary on Facebook and Twitter and read some of the blogs posted by the political journalists.

I learned something interesting. Most of the comments were visually based--what the candidates were wearing, their facial expressions, whether or not the commenter liked their smile, which was was obviously bored or excited.

I didn't get any of that. Sitting in the other room as I was, my experience was completely different. There were no extraneous distractions so I listened.

Listening is rapidly fading into a dying art. Our brains are so cluttered with the visual of TV, movies, even phone text, that we fail to use our ears anymore. Speech (and dialogue) is what makes or breaks our stories. Some authors had a terrible time writing dialogue. I wonder if that's because the art of listening has moved to the art of watching?

Do we hear the different cadences in speech? Can we tell anger from excitement, conviction from rage? If we listen to a speech can we discern humor from disgust without the visual cues?

I wonder how different the reactions would be this morning if the debates were broadcast over radio, rather than televised. Would anybody listen? And what would they hear?



  1. No, because politicians require a certain percentage of the public to be dazzled by popstar glamour so they will vote for them. The Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960 showed that. There was the popstar glamour of JFK against the much less attractive Nixon who dressed in a light grey suit that made him look wishy washy...and who won?

  2. Anny - it's like The Voice vs. American Idol. If you can only hear the voice, there is no visual involved. And you choose based upon talent alone. Which is why, if I'm going to watch a reality show (which I don't) I would watch The Voice.