I see posts every week about how it’s more important to listen in social media than it is to talk. Apparently, these authors also missed the point that it’s more important to say something unique rather than to regurgitate the same message endlessly.
I get it though. When we’re online, we often think too much about who, where, when, why and how we will say something rather than absorbing and reacting to the words of others. It’s one thing to share cool content on some campaign. It’s another to obtain the wealth of information out there and use it.
But there’s a slight problem with all of this listening.
Unless the medium is a song, podcast, or video, you aren’t listening at all. You’re reading, and reading is fundamentally different than listening.
Reading is terribly interpretive. This is why we have attorneys and English professors. They make their living deciphering meaning from coherent strings of words that often have multiple definitions and connotations based on their usage and the author’s background.
Reading really is as complex as that sentence. While we may think the words behind a sentence mean one thing and one thing only, they don’t necessarily. The trouble is we simply it, especially in the online context. People don’t read, they skim. See, you’re doing it now, you’re skimming ahead to the bolded part.
Listening, on the other hand, is much less subjective. Sure, the words still carry those multiple definitions, but the language is more nuanced by the subtleties of the human voice. What was once flat rises to life with pitch, intonation, and tone beyond the words on the screen. It all becomes much less subjective.
Recognize the fallacies of reading. We’re all imperfect when we read. You’re social media will be much happier when you realize this.