Captive Audience?

Growing up my children never had their hair cut by anyone other than me. Now that they’ve moved out on their own they still come by for me to cut their hair. Oldest called on his way over the other day and asked if I had time to cut his hair. I replied sure and mentioned it had been a while longer between cuts and had assumed maybe he’d gotten it cut elsewhere. “No way. I’d never do that. I don’t trust anyone else with my hair.”

I thought about all the haircuts through the years I must have performed on them. Our fifteen minutes of one on one every month or so…have we used those minutes wisely? We catch up on plans, dreams, news of family, and friends.  Sometimes I’ve used those haircuts to my advantage to ask questions they always evaded; you know a chance to pin them down. I’ve cut their hair in both comfortable and awkward silence, and I’ve cut their hair through fits of laughter. We’ve bonded in our own way through years of haircuts. This is the one time I am guaranteed to have them as a captive audience. (Of course, my voice does often have to compete with text messaging these days!) I wonder how often they’ve used that time as well to talk me into something they wanted or to initiate a conversation to me about something they’ve hesitated to tell or ask me.

This brings me to how people often use FaceBook and other forums for personal agendas. As a social connection many use it for blogging and business networking. Many also have personal agendas such as activism, religion, and politics. While I find most posts interesting or entertaining, some are annoying. I don’t mind if people post links as I have the option of clicking on it or not…chances are high that I will NOT click on the link. If they post a lot of rants I don’t want to read I simply block their content from my page. It makes me wonder what purpose the random rants directed at a specific unnamed person serves. I’m talking about the ones that say things like “You know what you did to me and soon everyone else will!” Is this merely a stress release? Do they want others to know their lives are filled with drama/trauma but don’t want to say who or what? Do they post messages they are afraid to send directly to the person for whom it is referred? Or is it simply the fact that they have a captive audience for their words?

As writers we capture our audience through subject and story. Sometimes we aim for a particular audience and other times we hope for any audience at all. We spin our words to capture pictures and conjure emotion. We hope to draw people in and hold their attention for a while. What kind of an audience do you hope your words attract?

Living in the Gap

May 8, 2012 – On Wings

An airplane zips through the clouds overhead, wings invisible. I know it’s there because I hear the rumble above and see the contrail it leaves behind. Butterflies, two orange and one yellow, flitter and flutter from clover to flower blossoms to budding weeds between cobblestones. Wings open and close quickly, resembling flags flapping in the wind. A tiny blue butterfly resembles a blinking light as it drill its way through the vinca vines. A huge fly, wings folded, rests upon the rocks and then soars off with wings level to his body. A black bird gracefully glides through the sky and perches in the top of a pine tree. My wings are tucked in today as I watch the many wings in flight around me today. Are your wings currently tucked in or are you soaring the earth?

29 thoughts on “Captive Audience?

  1. Wow! That is a heavy post! I really try to avoid politics, religion, and such on my posts. I sometimes comment on posts with those subjects. We all have such different views. It’s not like one person is wrong and the other is right; it’s just so different. I’ve gotten sucked in to a couple of rant situations, and I have to laugh because I knew beforehand not to go there but I did. Oy vey!

    • Most of the time I skip those posts, not always…but on FB I totally ignore them – I’ve seen some nasty verbal fights on there. Some people don’t really care that everyone is entitled to an opinion and are hell bent on making everyone see things their way…I don’t go for that stuff!

  2. First, reading the beginning of your post about hair cutting immediately reminded me of the 13 years I spent as a cosmetologist, and all the conversations I’ve had with clients. It’s funny how when you’re in an occupation that involves touching someone (especially their head), they open up and just talk. Some of the talk is deep, and other times it’s just them letting go of whatever is on their minds.

    Second, I’m longer on Facebook. I deleted my account several weeks ago because I honestly found no use for it in the past three years. But I do know what you mean about the rants, and I think you nailed it….

    ” Or is it simply the fact that they have a captive audience for their words?”

    YES, I sincerely think that’s it!

    For me, I make it a rule to always post words/topics that “I” want to share, and just allow my readers to read and comment on the things that move them.

    My audience/readers are very diverse and eclectic, therefore some enjoy the humor, and others enjoy my more reflective topics.

    LOVED your Living in the Gap! Sometimes my wings are tucked in, other times I use them to soar.

    Hope you had a wonderful day, Suzi!


    • I noticed a drop then a huge increase when I changed the type of posts I publish. I didn’t change them on purpose I just sort of fell into a different type of writing…maybe I just found my own inspiration. Still instead of writing for a particular audience I just write what’s on my heart at the time. I also think it’s good to see the other side of a writer, too. I like both your funny and reflective pieces.

  3. That picture is so interesting! I like the conversations you had while giving haircuts (and how cool that they still want you to do it :).) I have some good conversations with my kids in the car. They seem to talk about more stuff, maybe because I’m not looking at them. However, I don’t cut their hair. I tried that once, and lets just say it’s harder than it looks.

  4. I cut Domer’s hair when he was little. Since it’s so straight, it wasn’t too difficult, and I was only too glad to save the money. Now that he’s older, he generally gets it cut “professionally,” though he’s asked me to tidy it up a bit on occasion. Like Janna, we usually use car rides as times for deep conversations — that, or late at night before bed. You’re such a good mama, no wonder your kids are still dropping by for haircuts and sharing!

  5. That quiet time with your adult kids is so precious, no matter how you get it. As to chattering while getting my hair cut – that always has the opposite effect on me. I always get very very quiet when someone is doing something to any part of my body, be it a hair cut, a pedicure, a manicure, a massage – whatever. I just drift off into neverland. And then there’s Facebook – the internet has many many benefits, but one of the negatives, I believe, is that anonymity it provides – the ability to say whatever without regard to what effect it might have, on the speaker or the reader.

  6. Sounds like you and your kids used the haircutting time wisely.

    As for the folks on FB . . . consider it part of the LOOK AT ME mentality. They don’t have anything of import to say, but they want to have an audience while they say it. 😉

  7. What a great compliment, Mom. And what a way to connect, converse and be intimate – a haircut.

    FB just confuses me, SuziCate. I’ve morphed into only posting what has caught my attention significantly or what is a biggee in my life right now. I just posted about my wee pet and dearly appreciated the comments. But everyone is so inundated with input that I have ceased having any expectations for responses.

    The fluff, sarcasm, triteness that people can post? That all goes by me. I often have to go to a family member or friend’s wall to see what’s up. I spend so little time on FB that I hardly remember to even do that.

  8. I have generally been the one to cut my daughter’s hair, but last summer I mangled it so badly she simply refused to let me cut it again. So I did what any good mother would do – I took her to my trusted hairdresser, who has been cutting my hair for years before she was born. Our best chat time has always been bedtime anyway.

  9. Physical contact is a wonderful way to hold on to your bond. May it always last. I’m sure it will. 🙂

    I don’t spend much time on fb, but I like it. I especially like being able to control what I want to see, and what I don’t – unlike a TV commercial that blasts its way into my brain before I can hit the remote.

    Your “audience” question is a good one. When I write a blog post, I’m hopeful to hear from a diverse group of people who are honest with their thoughts and feelings.

    Honesty and diversity will assure that everyone is not saying the exact thing. I also try to write in a way that will let people know that they don’t have to feel as I do.

    • “Honesty and diversity will assure that everyone is not saying the exact thing. I also try to write in a way that will let people know that they don’t have to feel as I do.” -and you do a beautiful job doing exactly that!

  10. I massage my daughter’s shoulders as a way of reconnecting, after we’ve been apart. She fell out with me last summer – and I knew she’d truly gotten over it when she asked me for a massage. It think it makes conversation easier because, although we are in physical contact, I am behind her – so there’s no eye contact. I find FB a bit boring and domestic – but it’s one way that I can keep up with her – she never calls or texts me and rarely visits but she will answer if I write on her page! She never comments on my blogs – so it was a surprise to discover she reads them. Thanks for a thought provoking post, Suzi! 🙂

    • A massage, that is so sweet. Our children don’t always let us know how much they value us. Sometimes I’ve found out wonderful things my children have said about me to other people that they’ve never said to me.

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