This morning I saw an article online published about a month ago that piqued my interest. The photo of the smiling elderly lady on my Facebook feed plus the headline and the stamp of 20 or more likes and hundreds of comments were enough to get me to read the article. I love reading pieces about anything that even remotely has to do with seniors and elderly.
Born in Basement and Never Left. The photo’s caption was “Lived her entire life since the day she was born on West 135th street…”
As I often do, I skimmed through some of the comments.
“What? She lived there her entire life? She never left the house? The basement? Huh?”
“That’s so sad. Oh no.”
A few more of the comments were about how sad or how terrible it was that this hermit of a woman would stay in her home for her entire life. And suddenly I lost my taste for reading this article.
I wasn’t really in the mood of a sad and depressing topic today so early in the morning. Maybe I’d bookmark it and read it later. I thought of responding with my “humble opinion” (yeah right) to some of the comments. I thought of flipping to the next article on my feed (or turning off my iphone and getting on with my day!).
But my curiosity about this cute lady on the photo (never underestimate the power of a great image) got the better of me and I read the article in its entirety.
And boy, am I glad I did. It turned out to be a charming article about a woman who turned 93 last month and has lived in the same building (literally) her entire life.
She is a happy, positive woman who was born, raised and lived her entire life in the same NYC building. She tells the interviewer about how after she got married, she moved to a larger apartment upstairs, raised her children there, and how today she still lives there, engaged in the evolving neighborhood over 10 decades, and attending the same Church as her children and grandchildren. She relates her life experiences all taking place in a several square mile radius of Manhattan-ville and she’s grateful for her blessed life.
Okay, okay. I won’t tell you everything about the story. Go read it here.
So why the negative comments?
Could it be all the commenters missed the point of the story? (Did I miss the point??) Or did they simply not read the story and just commented on the thread to engage in the conversation already taking place?
To keep busy typing opinions that may or may not relate to the article, but who cares? Just sound clever. Smart. Click “like.” Click “reply.”
I know I’m guilty of this sometimes. I’ll read something or part of something (maybe half the article?) and then write a comment on it.
As long as we can act and seem interested in some fodder for discussion, it’s okay. We may not take the time to follow the author’s thoughts through from beginning to end, or really think about his or her point.
Nope. We just jump start our engine and spit out a response. A clever one. A complimentary one. Or even (G-d forbid) a troll-like one.
Some of you may be shaking your heads and thinking, nah. I don’t do that. And honestly, maybe we don’t do that all the time in such an extreme way.
Hey, we know that headlines of newspapers are meant to get us to read the article. And we know that we can’t always judge an article by its headline (yeah, wrong expression but you get the idea) so of course we can’t glean information from a title (or the other commenter’s comments!) so we take the time to read the article – or
most one line of it, and then write a comment. And we are sincerely interested in what the other person or author has to say.
Right? Ummm. I’m not so sure. Some of us are in such a rush in our busy day that even in our daily conversations we don’t always take the time to listen fully to what the other person is saying. Or texting. Or emailing.
I know I’ve written emails and received responses from the other person, wondering, “Did he/she even read what I wrote?” Probably not.
We all recognize the person (sometimes ourselves) who listens to what someone says but has that glazed look in the eyes showing that they really couldn’t care less exactly what you’re saying. Just more or less. Just the gist of it, so they can respond in the politically correct way and then move on with their lives.
When my husband and I are discussing something intense (happens at times) and I interrupt him (yeah I know…), he will often say to me, “Listen, I may be wrong. I’m often wrong. But at least let me finish what I’m saying before you tell me I’m wrong!”
But seriously, he’s got a point, doesn’t he?
We often joke (this time it’s both of us) that there are people out there who will ask you how you are feeling when they meet you at the market, and they don’t even take the time to listen to your answer.
Acquaintance: “Hi, how are you? How’s everything?”
Me: “Oh, I got sick and almost died yesterday ——-”
Acquaintance interrupting: “Oh, that’s wonderful. I’m soooo happy for you!”
How does that feel to you (or me) when someone jumps to comment before actually taking the time to listen or read what you’ve said? Not so good. Kind of like they already know what you’re going to say. Your thoughts are not so unique so they can second guess your thoughts and not only that, even respond with a helpful/wise response.
In short, it hurts. Badly.
As I said above, I’m guilty of this as well as everyone. But I do have the awareness. After being around the social media community for several years, I realize a tendency to want to engage. To respond. To share. To answer. To come up with quick and witty – and on target – answers. All good things. But take the time to read first. Listen first. Assimilate first.
Listening, reading, pondering over, taking notes – not so in vogue these days.
I remember writing articles back in my early days of writing. Before social media was big. I’d sit down at my desk and take notes on all my thoughts about a topic. I’d hold on to those thoughts, mull about them, come to conclusions about them, and then after a few days I’d begin to formulate them into a thoughtful draft. Then rewrite. Revise. Edit. And so forth.
And that was regarding my own thoughts. My own ideas.
How much more so when someone else is sharing their thoughts, isn’t it worthwhile to take their ideas into consideration before bouncing back with a response that may or may not be on target?
So how about we (talking to myself here!) try from now on to really listen to what the other person says. Or writes. Or texts. Read it. Then read it again. Maybe you missed something. Maybe you skipped a line or paragraph or thought. It’s all important. The person wrote it there — or spoke it — for a reason.
And just as I was glad I read the piece (in its entirety) about the lady who lived in the same building and neighborhood for 93 years, you will be happy you listened to the entire story told by your friend or acquaintance.
Wait till you’re finished hearing before jump-starting and responding. It’s worth it.