A frequently heard refrain on any social media or TV vox pop is that “my voice isn’t heard”. It doesn’t matter the theme under discussion, it can be about the pandemic, or Brexit, or the best flavour of Walkers Crisps, but the response is the same: “my voice isn’t heard”.
It is ironic really. To use the very vox pop, which is offering the opportunity for an individual’s voice to be heard, and the only opinion offered is “my voice isn’t heard”.
I think the issue with “my voice isn’t heard” is actually one of scale. Most people are spectacularly bad when it comes to assessing orders of magnitude. And, our modern social media networked world has made the problem even worse.
Let me give an example. I was recently in an MS Teams meeting at work. It was a relatively small group––10 people, as an order of magnitude––with all our faces on the screen at the same time. There was an invited speaker, who held forth on a slightly contentious issue, scarcely drawing breath for about half an hour. Following the accepted etiquette of MS Teams, when someone in our group wanted to make a contribution to the debate, they pressed the ‘hand’ button, which interjects a raised hand symbol beside their video stream. At one point in the monologue, I raised a hand myself, but all our hands were ignored. The speaker droned on oblivious. After a while, I withdrew my raised hand. The moment had passed. My voice had not been heard.
Now, in an order of magnitude of ten people, for someone’s voice not to be heard amounts to suppression; rudeness; deliberate silencing. But this is not the same complaint as that raised by the average vox pop whinger when they claim that: “my voice isn’t heard”.
They want to be heard by the entire world. They are railing against being unnoticed amidst the vast, chattering clamour of the boundless internet.
This is not a question of suppression; it is pure egotism. It is not being able to accurately judge your own personal insignificance when measured on a global scale. It comes back to orders of magnitude again.
And, when you do get an opportunity to speak and the only message that is getting communicated is “my voice isn’t heard” it is much more likely it is because you have nothing to say in the first place.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree discovers he’s been on mute on MS Teams without realising it.
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