Sometimes we hear, but don’t listen.

We all lead busy lives, and it is impossible to fully dissect all the information that we get given, either by word of mouth or written. With the explosion of social media, smart phones and tablets, we are being bombarded by videos, tweets, Facebook messages, blog posts, advertising etc. It is getting, ‘noisy’ out there! We are now choosing to open our lives up further, as many people are on their phones, tablets,etc, as soon as they wake up till going to bed.

Almost in every venue now, it has become accepted that people are fiddling with their phones, checking emails or social media etc. Even our children are following in our footsteps, being glued to their phones wherever they go. Our brain is busy, with all the random stuff it is dealing with. How can we truly read and understand everything we look at, we can’t! We don’t have time or capacity. We become selective about what we do. We may choose to ‘follow’ people, but even then, we select what we want to read.

So, we have now scrambled our brain with technological stuff, what about face to face communication?  Ah, ‘that’s different,’ I hear you say. In many ways it is, as you can see body language and eye contact, which lets us know how people are reacting to our conversation, but I wonder, if our brain, is starting to deal with conversation, as it deals with social media et al, by being selective?

We know that we all understand things differently, but my theory is that we all hear things differently. My wife and I joke about ‘selective hearing,’ but I really believe that this exists.When you put this into a serious situation context, you can start understanding the problems.The example I would like to use, is for those of us that have received a cancer diagnosis.

I don’t know about you, but other than hearing the word cancer, I didn’t really take a lot of the rest of the conversation in. Luckily, my wife was with me when I was given the news, and she digested the information much better than me.From then on, we discussed the conversation. She heard bits I didn’t, and vice verse. Strangely, I never really took in the bad stuff. Was that because my brain chose to ignore it? I think it was. Maybe that was my coping strategy?

As my regular readers know, my disease, (Mantle Cell Lymphoma) is quite rare, and other than in my own clinic, I have never actually met anyone else who has it. This week I did, and we had a fabulous conversation. Neither of us could really believe it. Our stories were similar in many respects, but we both had a slightly different understanding of things. We had both been given information and we made what we could of it. We added more over time, and came up with our own answers.

Personally, I like to know as much as I can about my own health issues. I feel I can then make better decisions. But if I am not using all the information correctly, maybe I am not making the right ones. Other people prefer very little knowledge. Maybe in this instance ignorance is bliss!

Certainly, information, is available everywhere, which shows a vast improvement in the cancer sector, over recent years.However there is still an issue, about how we all understand it. If we are all selective in what we read, then we will have very different ideas about our disease and treatment.If we then have a discussion with the Consultant, and we are only listening to parts of what we are told, you can understand how we get confused and frightened.

I am an eager participant in all things ‘social media’ but I don’t work. I probably have more time than most, to study it, but there are times when even I go blank, from reading tweets, blogs, etc. All interesting and relating to my hobbies, but it seems my brain is overloaded. There is a possibility that I miss important things in my quest to keep up. That seems to be the difficulty these days in all forms of communication, being able to prioritise what is really important!



  1. What a thoughtful piece Chris. It is getting increasingly difficult to keep up with all the information that is available to us online these days. While people may argue that many of it is merely noise, I have found incredible resources which have made a key difference to my advocacy work and my personal health. One solution I have found is to identify the key influencers in a topic and lean on them to filter the information. I think content curation is the way forward.

  2. Hi Marie

    Many thanks for taking the time to write a comment.Before I wrote this piece, I had treatment, and from discussing with my fellow patients, it was interesting what people knew about their condition, and understood about their treatment. In honesty, most understood very little, even though there is so much information out there.

    They felt unable to filter it, as you suggest.As I explained in my piece, I spend quite a time on Social Media, and understand it reasonably well, but for people who only do quick searches here and there, it can be very confusing.

    Your suggestion is good, thank you. I do the same. I liken the internet to an untuned radio. There is a lot of noise and it takes a bit of time to find the stations that you want to listen too. Personalised to your requirements! Of course, we all want different things at different times too.

    Welcome to the Community Marie, and I look forward to hearing from you again soon. Stay well, Chris

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