Shaken, Not Stirred: Cross Talk

November 27, 2016
Jim Bond

Jim Bond

Shaken, Not Stirred: Cross Talk

#ShakenNotStirred.

A blog by Jim Bond.

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“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Interrupting cow.”

“Interru…”

“MOO!”

It’s funny when my 7-year-old and I do it.

Not so funny when it’s prevalent in virtually every broadcast panel discussion. It’s ubiquitous now. We saw it during all of the debates and we experience it daily on television and radio news/talk programs; when a moderator asks a question of a guest, and the guest commences to answer.

Before a sentence is completed, either the moderator or a guest of a differing viewpoint starts to chime in. It’s not just an interruption, it’s a verbal attack. The volume increases, and pretty soon, all three (or more) are talking simultaneously, creating a cacophony which results in me (in the comfort of my living room with an adult beverage in hand) screaming at the TV.

Well, isn’t that a mature response…

“THERE! That’ll fix ya!”

But somehow, screaming at the TV gives me greater emotional satisfaction than hitting the mute button. Much like slamming down an old fashioned phone creates immense glee. Hitting the ‘disconnect’ button on a cell (termed a ‘mobile’ by the British) doesn’t create the same dopamine rush. After all, you could lose your courage when the party calls back and say: “Sorry, the call just dropped, I don’t know what happened”.

  Somehow, in my naïveté, I thought this childish cross-talk behavior would diminish once the election was over.

Silly me.

I neglected to review what’s been going on for decades, the growing incivility, the failure to respect someone enough to actually keep one’s mouth shut while others are speaking. I’m embarrassed that I catch myself doing it too; I’ve done it in meetings.

These are like marital disputes. Nobody listens, they just yell at each other.

An interesting phenomenon has developed, a pathetic, transparent attempt to introduce faux politeness into the discussion: “Excuse me, excuse me”.

This is not comedian Steve Martin’s “Well, exCUUUSE ME!”, this is either the interrupter or the interruptee trying to barge through the wall of argument.

I spent two decades as a radio talk show host. Sometimes I was also ‘engineering’ simultaneously. That was what I enjoyed most, because when a guest started  ‘cross-talking’ I would decrease their volume to zero so they couldn’t be heard by the audience.

“THERE! That’ll fix ya!”

The guest, realizing what I had done, would simply give me a dirty look, then would cease to talk. I never had a guest actually walk out, which would be the response in today’s climate.

I had another foray into broadcasting recently, The Bond Broadcast, a weekly, intergenerational radio talk show. There were three of us: me, my son Michael and his long-term girlfriend Sarah. Obviously, being an intergenerational talk show, we approached topics from different viewpoints. We discussed a wide variety of things: politics and other current events, manners, parenting, books, music, movies. Sometimes we had a guest or two, most of the time it was just the three of us. We were very polite to each other, despite occasional differing viewpoints on some rather touchy subjects. Once I made a particularly outrageous statement (imagine that) and Sarah just looked at me in disbelief and said: “Do you REALLY mean that?”

We had signals for each other when we wanted to make a point. (No, not that kind of signal). We would either raise our hand slightly like a second grader asking permission to visit the restroom, or simply touch the arm of each other.

I truly believe we’re going through a cycle. People are angry, feeling left out, regardless of their circumstance. It manifests itself as bullying in daily discourse, in politics, on social media, in schools. My hope is that this malaise runs its course soon so that our children won’t accept it as the norm.

There are occasional signs; people ‘paying it forward’ in fast food restaurants and other random acts of kindness. Let’s see how it goes during the holiday shopping season.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Media Group 31, LLC or its services, Mason County Press, Manistee County Press, Oceana County Press.

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