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The Endangered Art Of Communication
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Technological advances have given us many resources that enable us to contact other people very efficiently. However, with all of this technology, one art has fallen by the wayside and is probably on the verge of extinction. The endangered art is communication. Well, you say, that won’t happen with all of the available means of being able to “talk” to others…and there are plenty-Facebook, dating sites, texting, tweeting, email, blogs, forums, student blackboards; I could go on. But let me ask you this, when was the last time you had a meaningful face to face conversation, meeting, discussion, debate, or argument? When was the last time you looked sincerely into someone’s eyes and gave a compliment or sat down and discussed a relationship issue? When was the last time you met someone for a cup of coffee just to talk? Can you recall the last time you had dinner with your parents to catch up? Have you told your spouse in person how much you appreciate him or her instead of sending the “WTF” or “Why do you always…” text on your lunch break? When was the last time you picked up the phone and called someone just because they popped up in your mind versus sending them a Facebook post or message?

Our basic human needs are met by feeling wanted, needed, appreciated, important, and cared for. The sound of a familiar voice is more soothing and comforting to someone than a bunch of words typed over a social media site, email, or on a phone. Feeling the touch, hug, or handshake of a person stimulates nerve receptors that release calming chemicals into the brain. Again, imagine how it feels to be embraced by a close friend, significant other, mom, dad, spouse, child when you’re down in the dumps, had a bad day, are sad, lonely, or depressed. The feeling of their hug, their clothes, their scent, the comfort of them provides instant reassurance and a brief solace. You feel loved. And for that moment, your problems are miniscule to what they were a few seconds ago.

Visualize how it feels when you got that promotion, passed a killer exam, graduated from school, and someone close to you was there to celebrate in your joy. Their smile, pat on the back, fist bump, handshake, or high five is reaffirming. It feels so incredibly awesome when we can share those moments in person with the people we care about.

Now, imagine both examples when people respond to us just by texting, twittering, emailing, or posting comments. Not quite the same impact, is it? As per Webster himself, communication is “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior”. When we lose the signs or behavior and all we have left are those symbols.

It feels good to be acknowledged, but that feeling is shorter lived and less impacting on our psyche. I’m sure everyone has had the experience of texting something very important to someone and when they respond, it’s nice. Nice, but missing something that your being innately needs. And, I’m sure we’ve all experienced the misinterpreted connotation of a text. “What did that LOL mean?” “Why was the last text so short?” “What was that abbreviation?” And it seems that LOL after anything, even mean, makes it better because now it’s supposed to be funny. It’s all so confusing…and potentially damaging.

What happened to good old arguments, heated discussions, or diplomatic confrontations? Social media sites are what happened. It has become acceptable and commonplace to discuss sensitive personal issues; arguments between friends, family, spouses or significant others, or coworkers on Facebook pages, or other sites. Texting arguments are all too familiar. The danger in cyber arguing is that private issues permanently become public, friends become involved and continue the argument, you cannot read the other person’s body language, arguments escalate due to misunderstood connotations, and rarely is there a healthy resolve. And if and when there is resolution, the two people are not there to see or hear the sincerity in each other’s voice, shake hands in settlement, or hug in reassurance that the relationship is still intact.

When our main forms of communication are by means of texting, emails, twitter, etc, we lose a humanistic aspect. Body language is as, if not more, important than words. You can have an entire conversation with someone without either of you saying a word. The warmth of a touch, the brightness of a smile, a quiet moment, a look of reassurance, or the tears of pain- can never be experienced through technology.

Sure we get words across when we use these others means. And that’s all it is, words created in cyber space. We forget how to communicate. And when we forget one basic element of human survival, a part of us will cease to exist- our humanity.

Street Talk

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