You’ve heard a lot about the Last Song Syndrome, no doubt. Scientifically it’s known as earworms. It’s a phenomenon wherein you never seem to get over with a song you’ve previously heard. Wikipedia describes it as a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing.  It’s a nuisance when the song stays with you for more than a day even if you had already heard new ones. LSS (as we Pinoys love to abbreviate) most of the time occurs among people rather unconsciously.

But have you ever heard of the last line syndrome (LLS)?

I forgive you for answering no. It’s a term my friends in the church use during a particular “moment” in our bible sharing. It’s actually my invention (this time, forgive me). Unlike the LSS, LLS is about a bible verse and not a song and it happens as a person’s conscious decision.

Here’s how it works. We do bible sharing the basic way: we listen to the Word proclaimed, pick up a line or word that struck us the most, reflect on the line/word and share our reflection with the group. The LLS moment happens when each one has to say the word/line he has chosen. The first person tends to pick the last line or verse of the reading; others would follow suit. We know it’s the last line syndrome working when majority has done so and the sharing seemed to dwell largely on the last line or verse. Sometimes it’s forgivable, most of the time it’s annoying when we are stuck to one verse as if it’s the main idea of the Gospel verse. It’s completely embarrassing when the sharing goes off tangent and way beyond the context of the verse.

Some pick the last line for convenience’s sake. Some are too eager to pick the ‘best’ most quotable lines that he ends up with only the last line to pick. Still others are left at the mercy of their attention span and memory, they settle for the last verse heard.

I bet this happens to most of us as well, and I believe it is also true in other similar real life situations. When I do an evaluation at the end of a seminar or trainings, participants would usually make reference to the last part of the training or speech given as the most informative or enlightening.

On a more scientific tone, this phenomenon is related to what is called the serial position effect a term coined by German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus. Wikipedia describes the thing better. “When asked to recall a list of items in any order (free recall), people tend to begin recall with the end of the list, recalling those items best (the recency effect). Among earlier list items, the first few items are recalled more frequently than the middle items (the primacy effect).”

Better public speakers take advantage of the serial position effect in their speech or presentations; hope I could be like them someday.

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