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Listening In: the Truth About Online Telesummits

how full can one fill one's ears?

Listening In: the Truth About Online Telesummits

I discovered telesummits and podcasts around the same time, early 2014. 

Podcasts were a revelation--a neverending source of information, advice, opinion, from people whose information, advice, opinion I was already interested in, and their guests. Company for my drivetime, company when I hiked.

Telesummits were even more exciting--a galaxy of experts organized around a specific topic, the scintillating scarcity of talks  available only 24 or 48 hours.

Superabundance and scarcity both together, in an auditory avalanche for this highly auditory Ela!

Moreover, when I started listening to telesummits, I was sure it was "just this one" and all would be over soon. I diligently listened to all the talks as I worked, as I made tea, as I ate. I even tried to fit in listening as I showered, but that didn't go so well. Thankfully I drew the line at playing something while meditating.

Almost 18 months on, I've discovered that telesummits are ubiquitous. Sure, sometimes there are lulls, but sometimes there are surges. I've linked below all (I think) of the telesummits I'm currently either actively listening to or receiving notifications about. At least ten! And then there are the regular speaker series, with one or two or five new speakers per week. The more you listen to, the more you get notified of.

I've also discovered that at their worst, these telesummits are infomercials, opportunities to sell  products through affiliates. And I've also discovered that, given my own set of interests, the same speakers tend to go around and come around.  Some of them always have a new nugget, or else present such cogent information that I always find it valuable to hear again. But others have a schtick and give essentially the same talk at every summit, right down to the little jokes.

And so, especially with dozens of summit links in my inbox simultaneously, dozens of tabs open in my browser to refresh for the next day's speakers, let alone all the podcasts waiting on my phone, I've learned to let go the scarcity urge. No one's going to grade me on whether or not I listened to every single talk. 

And what does "listening" to the talk mean anyway? I was never before one to have even music playing while I worked, or talk radio in the background when not-working. I've always been avid to learn, but how much of a talk can I absorb while checking email or tidying up code, let alone writing a blog or doing developmental editing work?

As the old adage goes, when you split your attention, you don't do either thing as well as if you FOCUS. Research shows there's actually no such thing as multitasking, only rapid switching between one input/output activity and the other.

Research aside, it's my experience. I'll realize that I "listened" to an entire talk and really couldn't tell you a word of the gist of what was said. Or else that I've read a whole page of what I'm working on and skipped over whole paragraphs while listening.

Reporting this, I notice a sense of shame arising. Shame at not one but two activities done poorly. Reporting this, shame aside, I recognize that working on creative writing with a telesummit or podcast piping into my airspace surely saturates that airspace and numbs my awareness of the sounds all around me.

As I grow out of psychosis into my psychic self, out of craziness into recognition of the holiness of my altered states, I continue to realize the myriad ways I've numbed my hyper senses to conform better to regular society. This is just another of those ways.

Meanwhile, when I pray, when I meditate, when I walk in wildness with no podcast in my ears, the instruction I receive over and over and over is to listen in. To give airspace to those answers that hit me like epiphanies at the same moment that I realize I knew them all along. My dad has reminded me a couple times of a sutra referring to the ear "full of listening." Another case of cleansing the doors of perception.  (See under the second "Memorable Fancy.")

Allowing my perceptions to be as open as they truly are is daunting. But more and more, that's what I'm called to do. And in what I now know is an abundance of information, advice, opinions, there's also the opportunity to practice discrimination. Whole summits now go by without my tuning in to a single talk. Sometimes I'm not even bothering to sign up. 

But, for the record, here's what's been coming across my transom. There may be something here for you as well:

Hay House World Summit tha
The Anxiety Summit Season 3
Learning Strategies' "No Matter What" Fest/Lisa Nichols
The Self Love Secret
The Sweet Sleep Summit
The Healthy Essential Oils Summit
Ten-Minute Wellness Tips
The Done with Diets Summit
The Take Your Power Back Summit
The Dream Body Summit
Sounds True Publishing's 30 Days of Waking Up 

Image ©2011 Justin Lynham, Flickr, CC-BY-NC 2.0

About the Author

Ela Harrison

Ela is a wordsmith and herb lover who has lived in many places and currently resides in Tucson, AZ.

Comments (4)

  • PJ


    16 May 2015 at 14:00 | #

    Thanks for this post Ela. Again, you have nailed a topic that's been bugging me. I think for me, this super-abundance of input has turned a nascent ADD trait into a real problem. And yes, many of these programs are just big infomercials which pisses me off and leaves me feeling like a sap for having wasted my time.


    • Ela


      19 June 2015 at 20:54 | #

      PJ--so sorry! All my comments went to spam for a couple weeks and I only just rescued them. Thanks so much for your feedback. You're right, it's information overload shading into infomercial at times. Pedram nailed it, in his hilarious way, when he said we'd reached "peak summit" !!


  • Lucy


    20 May 2015 at 20:41 | #

    This is a great one for me to read! I too am guilty of overdosing on information, learning must wire in with some addictive center in the brain., I have similar issues on recalling the info. Usually only remembering one word or two from a talk, or sometimes nothing as time passes. But I believe that subconsciously your brain remembers a lot more., and in that way you can be programming yourself, without being conscious of what you've learned. I am also interested in stimulus detox! can't wait to read more of what you discover along the way.


    • Ela


      19 June 2015 at 20:57 | #

      Lucy! I've owed you a good long email for a long while! I promise to write properly soon. I hope you're doing well. Sorry, again, my comments all went to spam for a bit and I just found them.
      I do completely agree with you that much more gets imprinted within us even if we don't think we remember it. Also, at the general vibe level, even if I don't retain all the information, if I can just keep immersing myself in those uplifting approaches and be around people who share that approach, it's a major win still.
      Stimulus detox is something I'm moving into, and I'm grateful for the prompt to write more about it.


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