Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Ears

The pandemic has reduced our social skills to a mashup of everyone talking at once all the time, and I just can’t take it anymore


Royalty free image from Shutterstock

There has been something even more contagious than COVID-19, and that is talking over one another. For the past year and a half we’ve been forced into tight quarters and reduced to a very narrow scope of social interaction. Along with the fear and anxiety that has been coupled with the global crisis, it’s easy to say that our collective social skills have gone way down. No matter where you go, who you’re with, or what the conversation is about, people can’t seem to help themselves.

Their desire to have their opinion heard regardless of who is speaking before them is maddening. Myself being a student of audio editing and audio engineering with a focus in broadcasting, I’ve been trained to study how people talk and what makes a coherent and engaging conversation. I can rightly say that outside of the broadcasting bubble that there is little to no coherence or engagement occurring amongst the common folk. Perhaps it is due to the fact that we are crammed into our homes with our loved ones who we constantly see day in and day out, who inherently become our immediate outlet for social interaction; and the fear of seeming redundant or repetitive leaves us with staying quiet for the majority of the day.

So when it comes time to have that evening chat around the dinner table, it becomes a demolition derby of news, facts, opinions, and jokes. Before you know it, it sounds like someone turned on five different radio stations and cranked them up to 11. It drives me up the wall. When I engage in conversation with anyone, I try to emulate the streamlined nature of how I’ve been trained to present the spoken word, and it breaks my heart to hear the natural human conversation being mutated in the shadow of this unconventional situation that we’re still dealing with.

Another issue that has risen from this cacophonous condition is that most people seem to be unaware of it, and are oblivious to the potential damage this can do to our communication skills. What’s next? Five years from now we’re all sitting around the dinner table or in the classroom with everyone talking at once and everyone will just be fine with it? Take me out back and put me out of my misery if that ever happens.

Am I going to be one of those old fogies that’s going to say things like, “back in my day we used to take turns talking and we actually listened to only one person at a time!” At the rate we’re going, I’m going to have to move up to the mountains to a lonely shack with a tube TV, a VCR, and an AM/FM radio and say goodbye to the world. It’s been fun gang, but I’m just about done with hearing everything from everyone everywhere all the time. I’ll be up in the mountains if you need me.