You’re Not Listening, by Kate Murphy, was probably a highlight for me last week. Diving into the subject of listening as a skill we are losing and how it negatively impacts our lives. The book is supported by many scary statistics that predict our doomed future. We have lost the listening skill partly because of constant technological distractions and partly because of the me-me-me culture. We can’t deny that we have less and less meaningful daily interactions, and many, if not most in-depth conversations are now happening online. This is probably why I spent so much time on YoutTube this past week, watching extended interviews with some so-called influencers. One was with Hannah Bronfman, whose confidence and entrepreneurial zeal I have admired. I also watched some episodes of Nathaniel Drew’s new channel/podcast. He interviewed his friend and fellow vloggers Elena Taber, with whom he spoke about different aspects of dating and how it changes in the modern world. With Matt Dahlia, he spoke about anxiety and quitting social media as a creator. I was also profoundly moved by a conversation with Anna Wendzikowska about her life as an adult child of alcoholics and her career as a journalist. Magda Molek’s interview with Aleksandra Domanska was equally insightful. They talked about expectations, suffering, and how she isolated herself after becoming a mother.
One thing I noticed while watching these on YouTube was the significant difference it made between having a visual and only listening to audio. After all, following Murphy’s thought, nonverbal signals carry over half of the emotional content of the message. When listening to a podcast, much of that information is missing from a conversation.
Last week, I also finished a book, The Forgotten Girls, by Monica Potts, which my friend K recommended. It’s partly a memoir about lifelong friendships and a story of rural America and poverty. I also read great non-fiction that parallels Monica Potts’s topic, Zapaść, by Marek Szymaniak. It’s a story of smaller cities in Poland, which, all in different ways, have struggled since the transformation after 1989. I loved the multiple perspectives Szymaniak took across different aspects of employment, climate change, health care, so-called revitalizations and migrations.
In terms of films, I watched Close (2022), directed and co-written by Lukas Dhont. It’s a Belgian coming-of-age drama about two inseparable 12-year-olds and how peer pressure can ruin even the tightest of bonds—a beautifully acted, extremely gentle film about love, loss, and growing up you can watch on Mubi.
Funnily enough, the same age was the protagonist of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (2023), played by phenomenal Abby Ryder Fortson, which I watched at The Castle Cinema. It’s an adaptation of the 1970s book by Judy Blume I had never heard about. However, for some time, I looked for an innocent feel-good Sunday movie with great performances, and Kelly Fremon Craig, who adapted it for the screen, provided exactly what I needed.
What I didn’t need, however, and I regret watching, was Fall (2022), a horror movie about two female friends who climb a 2,000-foot radio tower and get stuck on top of it. What can I say? They had only themselves to blame, and so did I.