Insulated Listening And The Fallacy Of Negative And Positive
Recently I took a course on interpersonal communication; we learned about something called insulated listening. The insulated listener is really annoying to me. Before I had a more technical term, I would refer to them as “the human ostrich.” They simply block out and ignore that which offends them or does not coincide with their own world view. It’s extremely frustrating when trying to talk to the insulated listener. The insulated listener will only listen to that which they want to hear and often avoid bad news. This is a fear based mentality. What if you encounter a situation in which you should fully acknowledge the bad news in order to effectively deal with it. Refusing to acknowledge a problem, because “it’s too much to deal with,” will not cause the problem to magically evaporate.
Many world religions center on a duality of the universe, the good vs. evil/dichotomy. Zoroastrianism is one the earliest known religions in which the dichotomy was present. The very notion of an ongoing conflict between a god(force) and a devil(force) comes from Zoroastrianism, which Christianity later borrowed. An even more interesting theological concept concerning the issue of good vs. evil is the Gnostic deity Abraxas. A sect of first century Gnostics worshiped Abraxas. The qualities of Abraxas are both “good” and “evil” rolled into one. Abraxas is a deity that is playing the role of God and the Devil at the same time, the representation of the duality of good and evil without a conflict between the two forces. According to this philosophy, everything under the sun becomes the work of Abraxas. A little kid gets hit by a bus and dies, it’s the work of Abraxas. If your grandma beats cancer and lives to be 102, it’s also the hand of Abraxas. Avant garde musician Boyd Rice has talked about Abraxas, but he doesn’t worship it as a deity. To him, the concept of Abraxas is a representation of nature. In an interview with Bob Larson, he said Abraxas was the positive and negative co-existing, and neither one could be detached from the other. According to Boyd’s train of thought, the insulated listener is denying the very fabric of nature.
I think we have to define what exactly is meant by positive and negative. To the average myopic type, negative means “bad” and positive means “good.” For example, to those with this type of common mentality, hate is bad and love is good. What if someone hates injustice, and their hatred becomes the catalyst for doing works that help ease the suffering of others. What if somebody is in love with someone who has a toxic personality, an abusive type? To use a comic book example, the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents is what prompted him to become Batman. Is that event positive or negative? See, it’s not that simple. From a scientific , statistical, and mathematical perspective, the terms negative and positive are emotionally and morally neutral. You have positive numbers and negative numbers. In an introductory psych course, I learned about positive and negative correlation. In one context these words mean something very different from the context people often use them in.
Someone can focus all of their thoughts on rainbows,unicorns, and world peace, but it still doesn’t change the fact that we inhabit a world afflicted with violence, murder, rape, war, and other assorted forms of nastiness. As I started earlier, turning a blind eye to these issues will not make them disappear. An acquittance once labeled me “negative.” My answer to that is no I’m not: I’m a realist ,a pragmatist. The person who said this exhibits a lot “negative” personality traits: she complains a lot and is melodramatic. Being overly idealistic is not always “positive,” especially if such a frame of mind allows someone to only see the world as they wish it could be, as opposed to being able to see how the world really is. That’s a form of delusional thinking. I really think that insulated listening might be a by-product of avoidant personality disorder. I honestly feel sorry for these types. I can’t understand what it’s like going through life with an intentional disregard of much of what is going on.