Rebirth of Dialogue
In an era in which 140-character tweets have replaced 30-second sound-bites, more than 8,000 people paid to attend a two-hour dialogue between a psychology professor and a neuroscientist. It was their fourth public meeting (two in North America and two in Europe) with thousands attending each. Millions have watched and listened to YouTube videos of the events. Millions listen weekly to hours of ongoing discussions among a growing circle of public intellectuals. Much of the audience is under 30 or college age.
What’s going on? Are the youth more interested in dialogue than we give them credit for? In an era that many might describe in terms of “shrinking attention spans,” there’s a growing number of substantive dialogues taking place delivered through audio media distributed through podcasts and YouTube.
These are dialogs–not monologues. Their hosts seek out spirited discussion partners with whom they disagree on fundamental issues. They try, through dialog, to understand the other and to discover what’s shared, not just what’s contentious.
Many of us lament the reappearance of tribalism and the intensity of culture war issues. And the media that most of us consume is often “affirmation journalism” and shallow. But younger people–and some of us oldsters–are seeing hopeful change at least in the nature and format of listening. Even “eloquent listening.” happening. It takes time to understand a new idea or fairly reconsider an old idea. These in depth media dialogues give people as much time–hours if needed– to fully comprehend the logic–and sometimes emotion–beneath a differing view. With a break from the polarizing distractions of the daily news cycle, there is a hunger to develop a considered response to a different view.
This colloquy will depend mostly on dialogues that participants review using podcasts and YouTube. There will be little or no expectation of reading, but about 90 minutes per week of audio preparation. Participants should listen to the week’s dialogues, and email discussion questions for the whole group to Peter and Mike the day before each session. They will curate the questions into a list for the full seminar dialogue.
Sign me up!