I’m coming to the stark realization that I have a rare form of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) that causes me to constantly want to tune out all human spoken interaction. In fact, I’m doing it right now as I write at 3:03 PM from a staff meeting: just tuning people out.
There comes a time when you’ve just got to face the facts. This epiphony would also explain a lot to my wife.
The next question is Why? I think it is becasue I don’t understand spoken words very well. It’s not a language thing – I’m a native English speaker. I do speak Spanish and understand that even less (“mas despacio, por favor” is what I’m always saying). It’s like there’s some other language I would understand better, but I don’t know what it is.
Given the choice of listening to someone speak about corporate financial tracking and checking my blog stats or Twitter followers, it’s no competition. I will look up every 20 seconds or so just to make superficial eye contact – hold on while I do so – but Jesus, it is so boring.
I think I would much rather read a statement with a picture of the person that wrote it than listen to that person speak because the writing is a final, proofed (hopefully) communication. Not a bunch of words haphazardly thrown together between “uhs” and “ers”.
But I still don’t think that’s the cause of this. I usually just don’t give a s%!t about what’s being said. The interesting things are in my browser, on my iPad, my Blackberry or in my head. Perhaps if I was remotely interested in what the speaker was saying, my ADD would be cured.
Maybe not. Maybe if I had built in subtitles to everything like in the featured image at the top of this post, I could follow better. I have much better comprehension of complex movies when there is closed captioning and I can read the dialogue.
Have a conversation wtih me. You will see. I won’t understand. I will say things in response to your comments that will puzzle you.
And speaking of speaking, I don’t speak any better than I listen – probably because I don’t practice – and because I have no friggin idea what you just said or the message you were trying to convey to me. The scary part is that my employer trusts me enough to send me as a speaker to the BIO-IT World Conference and Expo up in Boston next month (not as Yorick von Fortinbras unfortunately so it’s going to be boring as hell) and I’m sure that is going to cause a lot of people to get up for an early lunch. I wish I could hi-jack it and talk about something that really interests me.
And when I see people in the audience reaching for their Blackberry or iPhones, I can console myself in the possibility that it isn’t that I’m boring them, but that they may just be fellow sufferers of V-ADD (Verbal Attention Deficit Disorder). Maybe it’s not so rare after all.
For that, I wish them godspeed.