I know a guy who likes to joke that his get-out-of-jail-free card in any conversation with women is the phrase “How did that make you feel?”
It doesn’t matter how little attention he was paying to the yammering of some chick about shoes or pocketbooks or the real housewives of Akron, Ohio — “How did that make you feel?” is the ultimate question to ask when he’s about to be exposed for fading out of a conversation too early.
I thought this was dumb.
Then I got engaged to a social media fanatic.
My fiance, Drew, lives and breathes social media, and I am in awe of his passion for the subject. He does Internet marketing and on the side, consults with local businesses to see how they can better use platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach potential clients, engage them and create community.
He works hard, and he’s excellent at what he does, and I love him for it. Besides, it’s sort of warm and fuzzy. I mean, at its core, social media is about communication, which as a writer, is kinda my thing.
But it’s also about business and analytics and results and returns, and after a while when he’s talking, I realize I have completely tuned him out.
The thing is, I legitimately care about social media and his job, but a lot of time, the finer aspects go above my head. When Drew stops talking about people and interactions and starting mentioning SEO, ROI, 4G or LTE, I tune out. It’s so many letters.
The problem is journalists are programmed to do several things at once — to listen, write and think of the next question all at once. There are many times when a person is talking and it dawns on me that I have not been paying attention to him or her for the last five sentences.
I have a friend who is a total, die-hard racing fanatic. Not particularly caring either way about racing, I sometimes find myself saying “Mmmm-hmmm, yup, mmmm-hmmm ... aweeeeeesome” when we talk. I have no idea what makes open-wheel racing cool, and if I passed Danica Patrick on the street, I wouldn’t know it. I slip in and out of awareness during our conversations, and it makes me feel terrible.
My get-out-of-jail-free line with Drew seems to just be honestly. “I’m sorry, honey. I totally zoned out and did not hear a word you just said.”
So far, he does not appear angry.
He knows he is a social media nerd. He knows I often get distracted and puts up with me anyway.
And if he does get mad, I can always ask how that makes him feel.
[friday] editor / wait, were you talking to me?