As a self-proclaimed “Guru of Negativity” one of my primary areas of interest and study has been, of course, the modern human communicator. And by using the term “communicator” I mean, of course, those who flap their gums creating a great wind. This is also sometimes known as a “giant sucking sound.” By the year 2012 ears had become obsolete as the art of listening had fallen on deaf ears. Or something like that.
As I pondered the notion that we had become a nation of assholes, I was eventually granted the gift of awareness. Abandoning the art of listening is a critical ingredient to becoming a great asshole. In fact, when one learns to stop listening that may be the pivotal moment of assholiness.
Tom’s Law #42
Assholes are persons where self-image exceeds reality.
Ever the optimist, I decided that necessity was a mother that needed nursing. Or something like that. So, in a fit of inventiveness, I hit the drawing boards on a quest to invent something capable of saving humanity.
The syllable gu means shadows
The syllable ru, he who disperses them,
Because of the power to disperse darkness
the guru is thus named.
— Advayataraka Upanishad 14—18, verse 5
The time had come to put my guru powers to good use. And I’m glad to say that I answered the call.
I call my latest invention: Trinary Listening.
Step one was to define the problem. That was the easy part. There are a lot of narcissistic motherfuckers out there worthy of study. The core belief of these people is simple: The other people only exist to serve as impromptu conversation prompts. Others are to be heard only up to the point where they prompt a thought in your head. A thought of such vital importance it overrides everything else. Once the other person has prompted this thought, they can interrupted, bulldozed, and squashed out of existence. It’s not just necessary, it is vital, if they are to bask in the glory of everything that is you.
Other people exist only to be the foil for your wit.
These modern asshole communicators operate on the premise that they are the only persons who have anything of importance to say. But it goes deeper than that. They believe that others are only capable of communicating single, solitary ideas.
Identification of this concept of singularity was the key. These assholes live in a one-dimensional world of their own creation and have thus limited their own potential, crippled their awareness, and have become self-damaged social mutants.
You can go anywhere in our society and witness this phenomenon in action.
Person A: Something horrible happened last night. It is by far the worst thing that ever happened to …
Person B: [interrupting] What a coincidence! Something happened to me last night, too. I came up with a new system of sorting out my desires for different kind of sushi so I’ll always be able to order exactly what kind of sushi I want. It works like this.
[45-minute period of verbal one-way vomit without breathing]
Person B: Oops. Gotta run! It was good speaking with you.
Blissfully unaware that any human might want to string two or more consecutive ideas together to form an actual thought, the asshole is only capable of unary listening, defined as that which prompts only self-oriented communications.
We humans tend to think of things like outer space, the ocean floor, or the tippy top of Mt. Everest as “final frontiers” to be explored. But the real truth is that the vastness of under-explored territory exists mere inches in front of our own selfish motherfucking faces.
Thus, the idea of trinary listening was born. The idea is simple: Allow others the freedom to communicate (and actively listen) at least three times before opening one’s mouth to generously bask others in thine glory.
Let’s look at one more conversation to examine how this might work. First, the unary listening model:
Person A: I threw a ball last night. And …
Person B: [interrupting] I once saw a ball, too. It was while backpacking across Europe with a young Gene Roddenberry long before he become famous. Oh, you wouldn’t believe the conversations we had about wagon trains while laying on our backs in grassy fields covered with dew while trying to count the stars. Let me tell you! That dude had a wild imagination. Why, this one time, we …
Now let’s re-imagine this so-called “conversation” using the trinary listening model:
Person A: I threw a ball last night.
Person B: [concentrates furiously on trinary listening]
Person A: I threw it at a barrel of TNT.
Person A: Your kids were tied to that barrel.
Person B: !!!
So how that shit works? By proper use of trinary listening it was possible to gain more information than was ever before possible. The sum total of human knowledge was thus increased. Just imagine the possibilities. Some of that information may actually be useful.
The bottom line is that by using this simple technique people will relate better to you. They’ll think you give more of a shit. And you’ll learn more than you ever imagined. And people might begin to seek you out because they’ll actually enjoy talking to you.
I tried it on my wife last night. When we discussed the experience later, she said she knew something was up. It was like her spidey sense was tingling. In her words, she said it felt like I was “trying to be nice to her.”
See? It works!