Although this book’s promise of life-changing content didn’t quite materialise for me, Murphy has correctly identified a problem. We like to think social media has broadened our horizons, giving us access to voices we would never previously have heard, but the way we engage with these voices is very superficial. “It’s hard to concentrate on the real world when you’re preoccupied with the virtual one,” she writes, arguing in passing that journalists’ fondness for picking out and quoting Twitter and Facebook posts, “rather than going out and getting quotes that come from actual people’s mouths”, may partly explain the media’s failure to anticipate Trump’s victory and the Brexit vote.
Murphy’s book is intelligent and thought-provoking, and although I’m allergic to self-help mantras, there’s useful advice on how to listen to teenagers and build relationships. Listening is when someone takes a real interest in who you are, and at its most successful it offers a snatch of parent-child magic, a moment of attunement and understanding that sticks in both heads. We could all do with some.
"It's time to stop talking and start listening." In this powerful and potentially life-changing book—a Vintage lead title for 2020—the US journalist author argues that in this age of technology and political division, actually just listening is more important than ever. In a part expose, part rousing call to action, and part manual of practical advice, she aims to restore the art of listening to its rightful prominence. The book looks to be to listening what Susan Cain's Quiet was to introversion. I think each and every one of us could probably take a leaf out of it.