I was thirty-eight years old when I finally got married, and by that age, as I’m sure you can imagine, I had some very distinct ideas about marriage, family life, and especially about children.
I specifically wanted to have children, and I wanted them for a very specific reason: In the course of all those years on my own, I had done (and not done) a lot of things; had learned a lot; had some accomplishments and some failings; made a lot of mistakes; and, at least in my own opinion, started to acquire some wisdom. I wanted to be able to pass what I had learned from all of that along to some other person, so they could have a head-start on life and be able to score all the gains without having to make the mistakes and pay the price in the process.
To this day, I still have no idea whether my motivation was utterly unique to me or absolutely normal for all parents, but I did find out that what I had wanted to do – to “inject” knowledge, wisdom, or even just the benefits of my own experience directly into the mind of another person was simply not possible.
For one thing, when children are newborn or very young, they simply don’t have the language skills, the vocabulary, or the attention span to be able to understand most of what we might try to teach them. As they get a little older, their vocabulary expands – and sometimes even their ability or willingness to listen, but even if they know the words you say to them, they don’t have the context or the experience to really be able to understand the meaning of their meaning. (Consider, for example, the word “wisdom” that I mentioned a little earlier; how can anyone possibly explain the difference between knowledge and wisdom to kids until those kids have some framework of their own to put that explanation into?)
It doesn’t get any better when the kids approach puberty; when they get into high school, or even afterwards – by that point, they’ve started to have experience, knowledge and issues of their own and, to them, anything you might try to teach them will always – because nature will already have started the process of getting them out of your house and into a life of their own — be seen as either irrelevant, passé, lame or, unless it’s a provable matter of fact, outright wrong.
There IS hope, though, and the old saying “The older I get, the smarter my father gets” is the proof of it: Eventually most people will come around and start to recognize and take advantage of what they can learn from other people.
That’s why I write: I still feel like, in half a century plus getting-to-be-nearly-another-half-of-that again, I’ve learned some worthwhile stuff – at least in the area of our hobby — and I’d like to be able to communicate it to people who might be able to benefit from it and achieve their audio goals more easily, more cheaply, or with fewer stumbles along the way.
The problem, though, is that even now – even writing to an audience of audiophiles who are themselves picking up some years – it’s still awfully hard to communicate: Altogether too many people seem to read what I’ve written the way they approach a conversation – listening only to hear when the other person has stopped speaking so they can insert comments of their own – and they seem to comment on what I’ve written without actually bothering either to read or to UNDERSTAND what I’ve said.
You know what I’m talking about; you’ve seen it yourselves, both in the actual responses to articles on these pages and in the comments posted about them in the groups to which they’ve been shared.
]]>It’s not at all unusual, for example, for somebody to comment on or to attack something that I never even said; or, as happened again just recently, to overlook entirely something that I DID say and excoriate me for not saying it. It’s not unusual, either, for people to ignore (or perhaps just never notice) what the article I’ve written is about, and to comment on what they think it ought to be about, instead. Quite a lot of people seem to have their own “hobby-horse” subject that they insist on riding, regardless of what the actual subject of the article may be, and they insert (however irrelevantly, and with whatever degree of vehemence), their comments on their own subject, ignoring both the article and the rest of the “thread”, entirely. Sometimes, where a conclusion is possible or some action is required (if you’ll notice, I almost never state a conclusions, but try, instead, to just bring up thoughts or facts that my readers can consider and decide on for themselves), people are so quick to cheer for their own team; to prove their own point; or to advance their own particular orthodoxy, that they will (as I think it may have been Estes Kefauver who first said) “…leap to a conclusion with both feet planted firmly in mid-air” and disregard the point of the article entirely. This happened recently, with my Audiophile Review article “Do Cables Really Make A Difference?”, which, drawing no conclusion at all, set out and suggested that each of its readers do, a very simple test that could be performed by any interested audiophile at home, and could, because it involved – as any valid test must – just one single variable, give definitive proof positive one way or the other and finally end forever the controversy over whether or not cables influence the sound of an audio system. That article was apparently immensely popular, and was shared, just on FaceBook, well over 700 times (more than any other article I’ve ever written) plus “shares” on some twenty audiophile groups, plus however many other shares from person-to-person or from group-to-group, and can, because of all of those shares plus even more on other fora, reasonably be believed to have been seen by at least fifty thousand, and possibly even more than one hundred thousand people. As such, there was lots of commentary – virtually all of it either supporting or attacking the idea that cables make a difference and delivering its writer’s position and credentials in anything from purely anecdotal, to impressively scientific language. Other than the usual-and-never-to-be-avoided ad hominem challenges hurled between some of the respondents, it was actually quite enjoyable and, in some instances, even informative. The only problem was that, neither during the week that that article was posted nor at any time since, did even one single person write in to say that he had actually tried the test and to report his findings. I guess that’s all right, though. There IS that other old saying, that: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”, and I’m really pleased that so many people seem to read my stuff. Even so, wouldn’t it be nice if somebody – maybe even YOU — actually tried the test and wrote in to tell what happened? Then I could finally – as has always been my goal — feel like my knowledge and experience was getting some use by someone other than just me!