You remember the other day when we had that pointless argument?

You were certain I was being dismissive and rude. On the other hand, I was feeling helpless because it seemed as if you couldn’t hear the words I spoke.

Actually, no. That’s not true. I didn’t feel as if you couldn’t hear. It was worse!

We can’t control the filters others choose when they look at us.

~Rachel Wolchin

I felt as if when I said RED, you only heard BLUE.  You reacted as if I said BLUE; you accused me of saying Blue. I was confused and perplexed. No matter how often I repeated the word RED, you only heard BLUE. For the life of me I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I knew I had to understand this thing that was driving a wedge between us.

Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost.

~ Kahlil Gibran

For days I pondered. I recorded my voice and played it back to myself. I accosted friends and made them hear me speak. Every single time, I only heard RED. Where on earth was the BLUE coming from when I didn’t speak it? Where was the distortion happening? Was it in your ears?

It seems as if you have a filter in your ear, like a mischievous hearing aid. It is a filter that distorts words that fall upon its surface. A lying monster of a filter. It takes nectar and converts it to putrid poison! And you don’t know it! You think the world only throws poison at you all the time. What a terrible, shameful lie!

I don’t know when this monstrosity got installed in your ear. You certainly couldn’t have been born with it. No one is born with such a loaded dice, doomed to lose even before the game is begun! He doesn’t play such sick jokes on His children.

It must have got built, one false belief after another, when you were  a little tot and didn’t know a false belief from a true one. When I see the havoc this monstrosity plays in your head, I wish I could place my hand over your forehead and download your entire life- from the moment you were born until this second- to examine it frame by frame.

I wish I could be the fly on the wall while your life plays out on the screen before me. All your joys and sorrows; moments of ecstasy and those of despair; your victories and your defeats- I want to see them all; experience them all. Maybe then I’ll see how that awful thing came to be.

Well, it’s really no use our talking in the way we have been doing if the words we use mean something different to each of us…and nothing.

~Malcolm Bradbury

You know how time-lapse photography literally (and magically) erects a whole building in a jiffy, right before your eyes? That’s how I will see the thing in your ear getting built. I’ll know the pressure points of that thing and the hidden loose joints in its edifice. Then it’ll only be a question of some strategically placed sticks of dynamite and a match to a fuse.

Then, once the whole thing was razed to the foundation, I’d edit that downloaded story and upload it again, taking care to first delete the original, faulty version.

After that, I’ll be able to talk, really TALK to you. Then I’ll know that what I say and what you hear is identical. No doubt that would  be wonderful, wouldn’t it?

Next, we’ll wipe out my filter too!

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16 thoughts on “Filters”

  1. I freaking love this. Communication is so important in the world we live in – – emails, texts and emoticons. It’s not anything we can avoid unconsciously but if we all sat down to listen each we could all hear better and there would be less heartbreak and defensiveness.

    1. Oh but we do listen! Only, unknown to us, the message is distorted by the time it reaches our consciousness. 😀

      Thank you for coming by…

  2. Haha! Only you can write about something so serious in such an imaginative, creative way. A mysterious filter in the ear which distorts what we hear, and colours it with the colour of our prejudices, biases, etc….right there is the reason of so much misunderstanding, so much confusion. Not just in inter-personal relationships but also how individuals connect with the larger collective – society, culture, nation, world. The Gibran quote is great!

    1. Three things:

      1. This isn’t so much about you communicating accurately but about the other person receiving your communication accurately. Not your fault if they have filters installed in their ears!

      2. You can only be responsible to what you say… not for what I hear.

      3. I think you missed the last line of the post.

      😀 Thank you! It may look ear(th) shattering… but the earth doesn’t shatter. Not really.


  3. So darn right! And how well you have articulated the frustration of having to deal with filters. You know sometimes when I catch the person responding differently, they say, ‘But I thought you said that!’ Now I know it is the mischief of the damn filter! When we say that people only want to hear and see what they want to, it is just their filters immovably set in place, isn’t it? Loved the last line about removing our own filters.

  4. When I began reading the post, I felt that you were upset, really upset. Your frustration and rage coming across loud and clear. You are absolutely right. It could be the filter or it could be that there are just some ideas and thoughts so dear to us, so ingrained to us that we just wouldn’t look beyond them. Mostly I’ve seen that those close to you are the ones to quickly gauge if you are being defensive, holding onto a bias or being unreasonable. You are basically shutting yourself to the other side to what may not match your own view. And to be fair, I think we each have filters. We interpret information and situations in our own manner because of how we are. Interpretation is loaded with not only black and white content but also what is said in between the lines, no?

    1. Noooo! I was not upset at all. You felt my frustration and rage? Of that I am glad because I wanted to create a mood for the post.

      And yes, we all love our biases. We are possessive of them and resent any suggestion that we should give up on them.. even when holding on to them would create nothing but trouble and pain for us. Weird creatures, humans. Aren’t we?

      As for interpretation, I have actually amazed myself. I once read words in a text msg which were never there at all. Needless to say, I got awfully worked up and was fuming. Thankfully, I did not get the chance to let the other person have a piece of my mind… but that’s no credit to me. I called but their phone was switched off. Later, morbidly trying to give myself more pain, I read the text again. That’s when I saw that I had ‘read’ words which were never there… nor implied by a long shot.

      I can’t tell you how stupid I felt. 😀 But thankfully, no damage done.

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