The Hidden Power Of Pause

Why have we stopped engaging in conversation?

John Caswell
Feb 19 · 3 min read

It’s still only February.

I’ve lost track of the plane journeys I’ve been on this year. The only saving grace of air travel is the refuge it affords. A disconnected space up here on top of the clouds — a welcome respite from the deluge. A chance to pause — to catch up on all the things on the list.

Except for this flight, it has WiFi.

I just realised how terrifying my list is. If it fell into the wrong hands I could get struck off. I’m not on anything that I could be struck off from though.

“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.” — Bertrand Russell

It’s a horrible list. Should I cross them off? Should I just burn them?

In the last 12 months, the list grew longer as I got angrier. It’s crammed full of visceral and terrifying inequities that I intended to put right. I write these lists because they keep me sane. The bad news is they’ve stopped working. I don’t feel at all sane. I just feel rage.

I’ve developed an inability to speak without immense profanity. If anyone gets me on one of the topics on my list it’s not pretty. I dissolve into vicious monologues — sometimes on my own. They’re broken only by psychotic fits of hysterical laughter.

There are three main themes on my list —

  1. Dialogue — I observe that quality conversation is dead. Taking the opposite position to someone (on anything) is the new black. People think it’s cool. Intelligent debate is replaced by dogma and opinion. We’re beset by a plague of arrogance. Interactions with people are reduced to competitions. These confrontations are laced with lack of care — snippy rudeness, ostentation and bragging
  2. 2. Disinterest — Whether in politics or business, there’s disengagement everywhere. Large swathes of the population are bored senseless. People disenfranchised by an overdose of rank stupidity, self-protection, cliche and complete meaninglessness. The net result — not much more than a superficial interest in anything. For the leaderships, this phenomenon manifests in a lack of interest in anything that’s not super simple to digest. There’s no time, care or respect for anyone who tries to explain that things are just not that simple.
  3. Irony — The solution to changing the first two would be a conversation so this is a futile text.

I’ve searched, but over the last 2 or 3 years, I lost the thread. I have no ability to comprehend what’s going on. I went from thinking I was quite well versed in the world to having zero understanding as to what’s going on. I have no clue what’s in people’s heads. I don’t know where this all goes or how some businesses are managing to survive. I bump into things. I can’t explain anything anymore, I have no idea.

Rehearsing The Apocalypse

Writing stuff down improves my thinking. It helps me articulate my ideas in conversations. I don’t share that stuff anymore. Very few people have the time to read. I get it.

Nobody cares anyway. What makes it frustrating is that they ‘do’ have time to be critical and competitive — but none to engage with it to make it valuable.

What’s so wrong with thoughtful consideration, actually listening, paying attention — involvement? These things don’t sound cool and as such totally underrated. I think they're possibly the antidote to the fucked up world we’ve built.

Have you noticed how more and more people don’t even pause to think in a conversation? It’s all a blah blah hosepipe.

Apart from being disrespectful at a personal level, not pausing to think about what’s being said is the ultimate measure of ignorance and stupidity.

Such lack of attention displays total disregard of other people’s perspectives and context. It just proves that people are too full of their own importance. They rank their own priorities and perspectives above all others. They just aren’t bothered with what’s important to others — which could be where the value may lie.

If more people were to get involved with anything other than themselves and engage with meaning then something far more important might come out of the conversation.

Discuss.

Just Thinking

Observations Good, Bad & Disruptive

John Caswell

Written by

May The Bridges I Burn Light My Way. I’m The Head Of Crayons At Group Partners.

Just Thinking

Observations Good, Bad & Disruptive