Listening is exhausting.
I spend a lot of my time on Twitter these days. (@ronniecat) I follow local and national reporters, local people, businesses and institutions. And I follow a lot of deaf or hard-of-hearing (HoH) people.
I got a fair amount of reaction from hearing people when I retweeted (that means someone else I follow tweeted it, and I "forwarded" it) this article, titled "Listening is exhausting."
My deaf and HoH contacts on twitter tweeted, and retweeted, and retweeted this article. It was as if - no, it was that someone had exactly articulated something we all knew, but all thought we were alone in.
Hearing, for most people, is an entirely passive thing. You just hear. For the hearing-impaired, whether working with hearing aids or CI processors, hearing is an active thing. You are actively working mentally to understand everything that is going on. Depending on your situation, or your employment, this can mean up to 10 or more hours a day working, mentally. It is, as the article title says and the testimonials agree, exhausting. I really empathized with the student in the video who said that on Saturdays, he just crashed. Done in.
(This is why closed-captions are such a very, very big deal to HoH people. They transform active listening into passive listening. With them, watching a movie or tv show is recreational and pleasurable. Without them, it's more active listening, and inevitably a bit of a chore.)
And the woman in the video who says "If I miss a cue, and they start laughing, and I don't start laughing..." Oh, god, where to start at how awful that is? I usually laugh too, feeling like a goddamned idiot.
The article and video - coupled with a recent business trip to Ottawa - made me think about a lot of things. My work frequently takes me to meetings with my colleagues across the country. These are usually 2-day meetings and on the evening of the first day they always schedule a dinner at a local restaurant somewhere. This is an opportunity to socialize and get to know each other as people, not just bureaucrats. I used to love these group dinners. Now, I don't understand a word that is said at them. Recently I've stopped attending them because they usually end up in me saying nothing (am I hostile?) or else the poor people on the left and right of me try to make conversation and I either repeatedly ask them to repeat themselves, or I just pretend I understand what they're saying (at my great peril). It just makes them feel awkward and embarrasses them. So I beg off those dinners and just try to be incredibly pleasant at coffee breaks during the meetings so I don't seem hostile and weird. Any "bilateral negotiations" (discreet one-on-one conversations with my peers in other provinces or territories) all must take place during those breaks too.
And that made me think of another thing. I used to be funny. I certainly was never the life of the party - too introverted for that - but I was always able at group gatherings of friends or co-workers to come up with the well-timed quip that would leave the table in stitches. (I'm not bragging. I'm from Newfoundland. It's genetic.) That doesn't happen anymore, in gatherings big or small.You can't come up with a pithy comment if you're still trying to process two comments back. It's an aspect of my personality that is just - gone.
So that's what you lose, in the end. A bit of you. It's exhausting.