Please lend me your ears. That is, if you’re not using them – or what’s between them.

Many people don’t listen. To themselves. Or to anyone else, either. No, I’m not talking about ego, insecurity and willful ignorance of others. I’m talking about physical and mental awareness of ourselves and our place in things.

You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We think out loud. Our questions not rhetorical but serious. Yet we’re surprised when people actually answer them. Life’s probably always been that way, but it’s worse now because we’re so selfishly and inwardly focused. I include focus on various electronics as part of the inward focus that’s divorcing us from the rest of the world. We’re really not expecting anyone else to enter this part of our life.

Have you ever answered someone’s question to get a blank stare in reply? Was your response too complex? You simplify. Too simple? You expand. Then you realize that they really weren’t asking a question of you, themselves or anyone else. Their mind was disconnected from their mouth and brain so stuff just flowed out – a mental excretion. If their brain cell was connected to anything at all, it was to that glowing plastic box in front of their face that’s finally given them a use for their opposable thumbs.

It’s one thing to sing in the shower or accompany a car radio. But too many people simply talk to make a soothing noise to themselves, not realizing that their mind’s audio wallpaper might actually make some sort of sense to others. Then they’re surprised when we pull them from a reverie to answer a question they didn’t know they’d asked. Is baby talk talk? Or is it just another experiment with mouth muscles and sound, like scat singing?

Are you ever unsure if you’ve actually said something aloud or just thought it? Usually something seriously embarrassing or insulting? Hint – if someone answers you or responds with disgust or shock, there’s a good chance you’ve said it aloud.

I believe it all comes down to situational awareness. If we spent a bit less time inside our heads and phones – and a bit more time recognizing the physical and social environments we inhabit – the world might be a better place.

Have you ever seen someone walking down a street wildly gesticulating and shouting loudly? In years past we would have locked them up. Now we just say [usually to ourselves], “Hang up and walk.”  While the person may be focused outside of themselves and on the person they’re talking to, they’re still oblivious to the rest of the world surrounding them. The same applies to people married to the GPS on their phones while walking or driving down a street. Many of them haven’t the vaguest idea where they are, much like people who fly to a tropical resort they’ve seen in ads, but never on a map.

 I call this the Acceptance Syndrome. While I’m not sure if it’s a cause or a symptom of an insecurity, the people it afflicts rarely – if ever – question things. They never consider why they do things the way they do them. They’ve never had to wrap their minds around the unfamiliar. As mankind goes, it’s a relatively new ailment. Perhaps it began when we started travelling with engines instead of feet, losing our connection with Mother Earth and the need for regular human contact.  If our prehistoric ancestors had it, they never would have made it out of Africa and across the continents and oceans.

I see it as a spreading contagion and wonder what it forebodes for the future of humanity.