Interpretations:This Microphone

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Losing your chance[edit]

I think this song is about losing your chance through over-preparation. The narrator has finished uncluttering and perfecting hir life just in time to realize that it's over.--WhatTheHeckLinnell (talk) 13:24, 20 January 2018 (EST)

Rage against human nature[edit]

"Selflessly hiding all emotions inside" No one wants to hear my negative thoughts, so I'm sparing them the trouble and bottling it up.

"Nobody's figured out my 12 fatal flaws..." I see the errors that nobody else does. I've even made a concise list of them in my head. Or maybe I'm hiding some important secrets that would ruin me if anyone else found out about them. Or, perhaps no one has caught on to the fact that I'm hiding my emotions and causing my own downfall.

"I'm busting out..." I can't do this anymore -- I know I'm right. People must see the problems with the world, or must at least understand they're there. It's undeniable, no matter how much they lie to themselves.

"I tried returning all that stuff to the store..." I want to rid myself of the hubris of mankind, but I fall into the same mistakes as my predecessors. There is no way to escape the cycle of violence, and we will perpetuate all previous tragedy as well as generate new ones in new contexts.

"I'm done explaining reckless displays" Explaining my outbursts will only paint myself in an even worse light because no one will understand why I must fight.

"Kindness is killing all my unfinished dreams and walking away" You can't kill with kindness. I've tried, and met so much failure and stagnation. I will now never realize what I wanted to, because I wasted so much time hiding how I feel and silencing what needed to be said.

"Caring is carting bad ideas to the dump and taking my time" Negativity is necessary to make improvements. I have to get my hands dirty and rid the world of the injustices and errors that it seems only I can see, because I care enough about the outcome to do so.

When choosing between being right and being kind, this song would choose to be right. You can't kill with kindness, at least not anyone but yourself. You'll be stepped all over. My kindness is walking away after all of these bad experiences and failures. The only way to change things for the better is to care enough to get rid of the problems. The only thing that evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing.

Keeping a public persona when we're hurting inside[edit]

To me, this is all about how we hide our anger, mistakes and ambitions inside of us, not showing who we really are to others. "Nobody's figured out my 12 fatal flaws" and "I tried returning all that stuff to the store / But then I bought more, then I bought more", etc. The person in this song knows all their flaws, their pain, their anger, their sadness, their dreams, their ambitions. They're trying to deal with it themselves, and not let the world in on the fact all these complex things are happening inside.

On the outside, he/she is trying to pretend everything is OK. And rather than tell others, thereby risking risk their anger or judgement, he/she just does what is 'socially expected'. "Caring is carting bad ideas to the dump" - they're trying to work out their bad stuff and be a better person. "Kindness is killing off my unfinished dreams" - instead of telling someone to go 'stuff it' or express what this person's true ambitions are, he/she puts on a happy face, treats others with kindness and let his/her true emotions continue to fester inside. "And walking away, just walking away", "And taking my time, taking my time" - thinking they've successfully avoided the conflict or fear of not being accepted for who he/she is.

But despite this, things do leak out in this person's persona, although others might only see the tip of the iceberg. To me that's the meaning of "Hey, this microphone was turned on all along". We think we've got others fooled into thinking we've got everything under control, that no one really knows what's going on, but we're mistaken. Our raw emotions are actually being laid bare for the world to see.

This "punchline" seems to be pulled from a series of incidents over the past few years, where politicians and/or famous people at one public event or another have been thinking they were saying something in private, not knowing their microphone was accidentally left on, leaving others in attendance in on their private remarks.

Sinister[edit]

I don't know what he did wrong. But I can't shake the feeling that the narrator's crime, revealed inadvertently by a hot mike, is murdering his wife. She would be the "bad idea" he's carting off to the dump, the "unfinished dream" he's killing off.

Or not. Whatever it was, as he commits the bad deed & tries to cover it up, he justifies it to himself as the "caring" and "kind" action of a good, "selfless" public servant. He was really starting to feel good about his prospects - "busting out" to popular acclaim, buying new clothes, declaring himself done with public explanations - until oops! he realizes he's been revealing his "fatal flaws" out loud this whole time to the adoring crowd he just was speaking to. End of career! Off to jail! --Nehushtan (talk) 08:56, 18 October 2019 (EDT)

Kindness is killing.[edit]

A thought I had: When they talk about how "caring is carting bad ideas to the dump" and "Kindness is killing off my unfinished dreams" they mean the being kind and caring is "taking their time" and preventing them from doing all the bad ideas they want to try, and killing all the dreams they once had. The song is about them realizing this and "busting out" and doing something for themselves for once. They aren't "hiding their emotions inside" anymore, which is represented by the microphone. Just a thought. <{[(lansburgh)]}> (talk) 08:43, 2 January 2022 (EST)