Enough About You, Let’s Talk About Me (Recognizing Captive Audience)

Enough About You, Let's Talk About Me (Recognizing Captive Audience)

Have you ever been in a “one-sided” conversation? Maybe you’re at a party, or at the grocery store and you run into an acquaintance. You want to be friendly, say “hi”, basically, acknowledge their presence.

Before you can smile and go about your way, the person begins speaking to you, and involving you in a conversation you had no intention of getting into in the first place. In my experience, it tends to start out friendly enough. They ask a general question such as, “How are you?”. If you are normally socialized person, and depending on how close you are to the other person, a good succinct answer usually will suffice. “Oh, I’m good.” you’ll say. This is where it begins.

The other person starts to unload on you every experience they’ve had since the last time you saw them. Or worse yet, they begin to gossip about other people in your social circles. Their seamlessly unending train of words is filled with assertions, presumptions, and just plain B.S. They seem to be oblivious to the fact that you are not at all interested in what they have to share with you. You are being held “Captive Audience”.

The term “captive audience”, as is commonly used is a little different then what I’m writing about here. Generally speaking, captive audience refers to external messages that one is subjected to while engaging in another activity.

For example, if you go to a sporting event to cheer on your favorite team, you are held captive audience to all the advertising in the stadium. If you attend a class on anthropology, and the professor spends the class time lecturing on the politics of the university, you are a captive audience.

For my purposes here, I want to address the social aspects of a captive audience. Mainly, how to recognize when you are being held captive audience and what to do about it, as well as how to notice when you might actually be holding another person captive audience, and how to correct the situation.

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