Thursday 27 February 2014

The not-hearing person in the room

I'm a chatterbox.

I love everything about interacting with people. The chitchat and the jokes, the way you slowly get to know people through snippets of conversation.

And most of the time I am happy with my version of that. My version, which is much more one-to-one than group, which is much more engineered and controlled by me, which is much more saying 'What was that?' to a trusted person so they can relay what I have missed to me and make me feel a part of what is going on.

But the thing is, sometimes this really bothers me.

I can sit in a room full of people and they're all chatting, catching up, learning about each other, getting to know one another in the way you do when you spend eight hours a day with each other, and I am not a part of that. Not without looking up, stopping the conversation, asking for someone to tell me what's going on. And of course, people are always happy to do this. But I just wish they didn't have to.

There are lots of things I don't mind about my deafness. I don't mind not hearing babies crying or police sirens and fire alarms. I don't even mind that much that I cannot make phone calls to British Gas.

But what I do mind is that sometimes it seems that I don't belong in a room full of people. Like it looks that I don't make the effort to get to know people. Because I cannot get to know people in the usual way.

It means that a conversation with me often goes one of two ways. Either it's all about me so that I can control the subject matter and guess what's being said. Or it's me firing questions at someone. Neither convential ways of building friendships.

One of my Twitter followers once said to me that if you're deaf, people will always tell you if the building is burning down but they won't tell you their secrets. And I get what she meant. Except it's not the secrets I want. It's the mundane facts about other people. What they're cooking for tea, what they're having for lunch and what this song on the radio – which I cannot hear by the way – means to them.

Wonder if I could get a voice-activated live subtitling screen here?

That'd help wouldn't it?

And until then, get ready for DG's 20 Questions – because that's all I've got for now.


1 comment:

Emily Dame said...

I truly feel for you because this was me for 12-15 years prior to my cochlear implant surgery in 2012. Now I rarely feel out of the loop even in large groups and/or very noisy settings.

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