Reading, Writing, Talking, Listening: What’s it all for?

Statistics show that according to a survey done in the 1950s, and again recently, people had four confidantes apiece back then, and now people have less than one. Which is interesting because facebook culture likes to give the impression we’re all wallowing in pools of friends everywhere we go. We all know it’s BS, but here finally is a study that, if you believe its results, proves it.

Fact is, it’s a lonely world. We all need someone to talk to, and we don’t all have that someone. And if this statistic is true, it’s particularly sad, because one hopes one’s spouse will be a confidante, but apparently that isn’t always true. It makes me wonder–is it harder for people to talk nowadays? Or is it harder to listen? People travel more and have access to so many more people and communities, you might think they would be able to find like-minded folks more easily, but apparently not, which is a really scary fact when you think about it, and really relevant to writers and ghostwriters.

Are We Too Isolated?

We know technology has made life more convenient but not necessarily easier. That has become apparent by now. We know technology has given us more choices, but that it has also made the world more complicated. But this study really makes me wonder: has it isolated us from one another so much that we no longer have anyone to really talk to? When you think about it, is there anything more important (aside from your health) in life than having a confidante? Then again, this could be the best thing to happen to the literary world in a long time. Writers are often driven by just that desire to be heard, and, frankly, the more confidantes you have the less likely you may feel to write about your philosophy, concerns, revelations, and so forth. This pervasive loneliness could be the best thing to happen to the literary world in forever, if you look at it that way. But having a confidante, of course, implies also being a confidante–listening. Extending the comparison to the literary world, that begs the question: how much do you read? How much to you listen to other writers? How much of what you read do you share?

My Job is to Listen

As a ghostwriter, I often have clients who are dying to write a book, but who seldom read. And, frankly, that relationship with the world is sometimes reflected in their personalities. They talk but don’t listen. With me, that’s not relevant because my job is to listen, not to talk, so we work fine together, but in light of the study above, I do find it interesting. Perhaps the problem today is not so much a lack of connection between people or a lack of ability to express oneself, but the lack of ability to listen that would make someone a good confidante. Reading or writing a book requires a level of attention not required for articles, blogs, and other short pieces. It requires attentive listening, long-term problem-solving, and the ability to understand meanings behind actions without being directly told. These are the skills of a good confidante. I don’t mean to stretch the philosophical point, but I do think there is a correlation between how much people read and how good they are at relating to others. Anyway, long live long-form literature!

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