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Monday, August 03, 2009

Being Heard

So there is this phenomenon in American culture. It is that we want to be heard. It's not really important what the subject is - we just really want to be heard. And it's hard to explain how deep that desire is. You see, Americans consider being heard as something that is quite valuable indeed.

One of the more remarkable examples of this is something called Angie's List. I'm not sure who Angie is (or if there even really is an Angie). It is billed as a company that aggregates consumer reviews of local service companies. But it is actually a private community that only paying members can participate in. That means that in order to see a review on any company you might have an interest in, you have to pay the $59.00 annual membership fee. Similarly, to provide a review on a particular company, one must also pay the $59.00 annual membership fee.

Now you can imagine that not too many people would be willing to pay $59.00 in order to read other lay evaluations of particular vendors - whom I haven't identified yet. So how does Angie's List recruit its members? Mostly be advertising in local newspapers as a place to complain. "Had bad service? Had a poor experience? Tell it to Angie!" So here we are, like sheep being led to slaughter, willing to pay for the privilege of telling someone how awful we've been treated as a customer. Like I said, Americans place great value on the ability to be heard.

So I wonder what America might be like if Americans placed as much value on listening as they do on being heard. How might our priorities change? How do these dynamics impact our culture? I suspect the truth is that we don't know. We are probably ignorant of this impact.

Clearly there is no Biblical correlation. We are to pray without ceasing - being heard by God. But I don't find anything that says we should be heard by anyone but God. So when I see what Americans are willing to pay in order to be heard, my gut instinct tells me that this phenomenon is not without its ramifications. Now I just have to think about what those are!

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