It’s ironic how in this interconnected internet age; politics, pandemics, and the internal biases we hold have left us more divided than ever. It seems it would take a truly bold and necessary idea to stitch us together – and I think I found it. It’s called listening, and it’s an idea that I believe has the power to change how we view and ultimately hear the world. I came across this on “The Next Big Idea,” a podcast created by Malcolm Gladwell where he discusses such ideas with experts. In this episode, Gladwell spoke with Kate Murphy, a journalist who stated that “We are in the Age of Terrible Listening.” Sitting in my room alone on the 75th day of quarantine, I couldn’t have agreed more. It’s not just the distance and isolation. Communication was already shifting from spoken word to texting and tweets. The pandemic only accelerated this. It’s the available time to read the wars exploding in comment sections. The doxing and cancelling of people on the internet resembling nothing short of a public execution. Often, we refuse to listen to those who hold contradicting beliefs. Twitter makes it so we don’t have to as we bury ourselves in our echo chambers. I was one of those people too! I was furious – we all are. But this is not the way. 
We must open our ears and listen to people not as their ideologies but as humans. We must be kinder. Real tender communication is how we will resolve our conflicts and coexist. It’s hard – we all have Tik Tok attention spans after months of mental vegetation, and it’s not the perfect solution – but it’s the step towards progress. In your next conversation ask yourself: Are you speaking to be heard, or are you listening to understand?

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