Hey, Listen.

There are many, many ideas that can arise after experiencing American Psycho (whether through the novel, or the 2000 so called cult film) and just for good measure (and because I want anyone reading this article to get through half the book or film, at least) I’m going to list off the ones that are most prevalent: the insane can have casual desires, a sharp dressed individual does not necessarily have a sharp mind or emotional scale, the wealthy and powerful will remain wealthy and powerful no matter what they do, and, of course, when wearing grey pants never wear grey socks because it’ll look like you’re trying too hard. Though, frankly, that last one is debatable. I digress of course, because the most important idea (and this is, in fact, the most important) is none other than the timeless classic: Listen. Now, obviously, we, as a species are instructed from birth to listen to our elders, listen to our teachers and parents, listen to our bosses, listen to our friends, listen, listen, listen. The main point is that we should listen to those who are wiser (because they’ve experienced more than us and are therefore a source of enlightenment) and to others (because it’s a form of respect; they listen to us speak, and we listen to them speak), but, sadly, we don’t, not always anyway.

Though, I say this like it’s a deep revelation, but it’s not and it’s never been. We don’t listen to others as much as we should and, in all fairness, why should we? The great comedian George Carlin had a routine where he’d talk about having to listen to people rant on and on about their vacations and how he would, usually, have to restrain himself from shouting at them to stop because he didn’t care. That, unto itself, is exactly why we stop listening: because we don’t care. It’s the exact reason why we stop listening to a conversation about art, or sports, or clothes, or school, or anything like that; we don’t care about the topic and so we assume that, so long as we at least pretend to listen to the other person (like our parents and guardians constantly tell us to) it’ll be alright, because it’s not an interesting or important topic to you (and I) anyway. Who cares about your neighbour’s vacation in the Caribbean? Who cares about your boss’s dog? Who even cares about your cousin’s or sister’s or brother’s or aunt’s or uncle’s or whomever’s spinal injury, or trip to to the country, or graduation, or retirement? Well, the sad fact of the matter, believe it or not, is that they do. They care and if they’re telling you or I, then they clearly care about it a lot more than you think, because that’s what happens when we care about other people, we share our experiences with them and we hope that they do the same to us.

Well, at least we would if everyone else had the decency to close their mouths and listen to us. Which brings me to my next thought; another reason why we just suddenly stop listening to others: when it’s our turn to speak, they won’t stop rattling on about whatever (because I wasn’t even paying attention anyway) it is they ‘re talking and listen to us. So, logically speaking, because they ignore us (or rather, because they stop listening to us) we ignore (or stop listening) to them. It’s equivalent exchange, it’s fair trade (so to speak), it’s an equal distribution of time; one second for us one second for them, two minutes for us and two minutes for them, and so on and so forth (though, more on the whole equivalent exchange thing in a second) The fact of the matter is that yes, they weren’t listening to you and it was, in fact, extremely rude of them to not do so. It would be even more rude if, while you’re speaking, they pulled out their phone and started texting their best friend Patrick or Timorthy or Evelyn (who’s probably cheating on Patrick, her boyfriend, with Timothy, Patrick’s only interesting friend), and they begin to ignore you on every possible level. I couldn’t possibly agree anymore with anyone when they say that the advent of technology (computerized, hand held, portable technology; notice the distinction) has made it extremely easy to stop listening to people to start ignoring them, but honestly, it has never been easy to get people to listen to you and, frankly, it never will be.

Which is why I’m making an appeal; a personal, and heart felt request to anyone who’s reading this: please, under any circumstance available, no matter how hard it may seem and no matter how upset you are that the person you’re speaking to has a better suit, nicer shoes, prettier earrings, better apartment, or even a nicer business card, listen to them. Listen to them with both ears open, with both eyes meeting theirs, and your entire body facing them. Listen to them, take in what they’re saying, speak when it’s your turn to speak, offer encouragement to continue speaking, ask them questions about the things that peak your interest in the discussion and if they’re ranting towards you (like I’m doing right now) well that’s all and good, because when it’s your turn to speak (and I guarantee you, it’ll be your turn to speak soon), they’ll probably do the same. If they don’t, then that’s a shame indeed, and you tried your best anyway; sure, it’ll hurt and sting for a while, but at least you showed them the respect that you’d like to get back yourself. Though, most times out of ten, it won’t matter how hard you try because they (despite their interest and the fact that they are listening) might never be equally fair to you. You could spend hours listening to them, and they could just spend ten minutes before they begin to tune you out and, in that case, exercise reasonable action; don’t be equally rude to them, but just say no, and move on.

We all want someone to listen to us, that’s the bottom line. It’s why internet trolls make fun of stuff in the comments section, it’s why people start blogs (seriously though, comment people, comment), it’s why people write, or draw, or sculpt, or get a position in a high end marketing firm where they can afford anything they want to buy; because they want people to look at and pay attention to them. They want to be able to jump up on a table and scream “Hey, look at me” and have billions of heads turn towards them. Sure, they want people to pat them on the back and give them contact information, they want money, high grades in school, and people in high places telling them that they’re going to go far but, and I cannot stress this enough, the one thing everyone wants, more than anything in the world, is recognition. I mean this in every sense of the word; they want to be recognized for their achievements, for their success, for the people they’ve met, but frankly, they, I, you, we, she, and he just want to be recognized and listened to.

That’s why Patrick Bateman let his secretary go; she paid attention to him and when he asked her something, she responded with an enthusiastic “Yes sir;” partly because she was his employee, partly because she was in love with him, but entirely because she wanted to and because she knew it was the right, and logical, thing to do. Yes, most people will not be in the same position that Jean was throughout the course of both mediums (with an individual like Patrick Bateman as a boss), but I can guarantee you that everyone’s been in the same position as Bateman, utterly and completely ignored and wishing they could do anything to be heard. Though, before I do conclude, I’d like to stress again that not everyone will respond in kind. You may listen to someone and they may never bat and eyelash in your direction. You could listen to someone prattle on for what feels like decades and you may never get any closer to knowing them. This, however, is not for the broken hearted who are in love with those who will never respond in kind. This isn’t even for the people who have a terrible boss that is, quite literally insane. This is nothing more than a simple request, from a person you’ve never met before on a blog that’s just like any other: please, when someone is speaking to you, listen.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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