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Preaching to the choir in the echo chamber

Yeah, I know, that’s kind of a weird title for someone who is deaf, since I can neither hear a choir nor an echo chamber. But I’ll use these words because it’s the best I have available to me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I have been doing with Munky Mind for the past few months. I’ve enjoyed being able to reach a larger audience, and I’ve really appreciated all of the positive encouragement from people, namely those either in the Deaf Community or connected to it.

Obviously, a large number of my posts have been Deaf-Centered. Most of them, really. I wrote these posts because I’ve had a lot that I wanted to express on these topics, and I wanted to have a positive impact on the world, especially in families and in education.

Lately Deaf-Centered topics have dwindled to fewer posts. In part this is simply because I’ve said a lot of what I wanted to say, and ideas for new topics that I actually feel inspired to write about have been slowing to a trickle. I may have other posts coming that are Deaf-Centered, and for all I know there will be many, but at the moment I’m not sure at all.

Image by geralt via
Image by geralt via

Munky Mind was never intended to become a blog about Deaf-Centered topics. It is supposed to be about whatever I want to write about. That is part of the reason for the name, as if my mind is monkey swinging from vine to vine, topic to topic. Whatever I feel inspired to write about, that’s what I will write about. There are other reasons for the name as well, but I won’t go into that right this moment.

Now, getting to the point of this article’s title…

I’m not sure that my posts are actually contributing to any positive changes being made, because of a few reasons:

  1. Most people who read Munky Mind’s Deaf-centered posts already know the information that I present, and already feel the same way or at least similar, on all these topics.
  2. Those that don’t know what I’m sharing are only a small percentage of the readers, and most of them are not at all connected to the Deaf Community and therefore aren’t in a position to make changes happen.
  3. The few readers that do disagree with what I have to say are as firm in their perspectives on these issues as I am in mine, therefore extremely unlikely to change.

In order for any of my posts to actually contribute toward change in education or families with deaf children, these would need to be read by those who haven’t already solidified their positions on these issues, and I don’t see these people being reached.

Essentially, I have been mostly preaching to the choir. I am writing posts that are mostly read by those who already agree with what I have to say. Then I am reinforced with these agreements. We become something of an echo chamber, the same ideas and thoughts and feelings bouncing back and forth without reaching the outside world in large degree.

For positive change to happen, the messages that I write about or you write about or someone vlogs about need to be shared outside of the choir, outside of the echo chamber. It’s not about me as one writer. I am one writer amongst many. There are plenty of fantastic Deaf writers I have noticed and plenty of amazing vloggers as well, each with messages that need to be shared. These messages need to be shared OUTSIDE of our circles.

If you find a post that really means a lot to you because it expresses something that you feel, then share it outside your circle. Print out a copy and give it to a neighbor you never talk to, or your doctor, your dentist, the leader of your kid’s Boy Scout troop. If there’s an ASL video that expresses what you feel in a way that you haven’t been able to express, and it’s captioned for the non-signers, share it directly with people outside of your circles. E-mail it to your child’s school Principal, your co-workers or boss, or anyone that you can think of that doesn’t already know what the video is trying to express.

It’s not about me. I want to contribute what I can, but I know I am just one thread in the tapestry we are all weaving together, a tapestry that gives the world a picture of who we are and what we are capable of when we are valued in every way.

Finally, as a parting thought: I write a lot of posts about non-Deaf issues, and I’d love for you to read those as well. I am about more than being Deaf. I write about anything I find interesting and inspiring, whether it is fatherhood, mindfulness, silly things, poetry, stories, or just simple moments in life. Each of these are a part of who I am, and these posts are read far less often. As an example, one post that I put a lot of effort into, called The more aligned you are with your values, the happier you are has been read 83 times as of today’s date, while Stop saying you sign badly has been read 17,889. Interesting, isn’t it? If you look at all the Deaf-Centered posts, they’ve all been read in the hundreds or thousands, but every other topic is far less often read.

I really do appreciate every reader. I have no regrets about writing any of these posts, and I do hope I have many more ahead of me. We’ll see, won’t we? Expect the variety to continue, and possibly increase. I will continue to write whatever I’m going to write, and invite you to come along for the ride.

If you feel up for reading other posts, go ahead and see what else I have to offer, here on Munky Mind.

By J. Parrish Lewis

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

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