There are so many ways to communicate in today’s world. We can talk, use body language, and write a letter. We can call, text, Facebook, tweet. Instagram. Skype or G chat. This list could go on and on. But what are we saying? Are we actually really and truly communicating anything or have we lost the ability to connect in what we say?
Many of us are guilty of not even saying and just assuming that because we might have said it before, the other end of the conversation remembers what was said and can apply said knowledge to the circumstance facing us now. Sometimes, it seems that if it is a moment of pain or disappointment the communication is twisted and or shaped by what we thought we heard vs what was actually said.
We have learned to let mediums stand in the middle of what we say and do with one another. The television educates children about the way we should live. What success, death, or greed looks like. What hope feels like. Connection or contention . Hope or disparity. Freedom or oppression. Anger. Love. Peace and joy.
Don’t get me wrong. I love technology. I really do. It allows me to write to you. To send the messages I am asked to with relative ease, to an entire population of people I might never really know. It allows me to see my growing nieces and nephew and to not seem quite so far apart. It allows me to make a living.
The trouble is this, if we lose the humanity in something and If we don’t yet have context around something, we have to and often do – use former experience to inform the input that we are feeling right now. I think of it kind of like having a foreign exchange student. In high school, my family was lucky enough to host some girls from Holland. Prior to arriving at our house and living with us, TV had told them that Americans looked, acted, and all lived in specific ways. We were all rich and beautiful and in the acting or modeling business. We drove expensive cars. My lower middle class family blew that right out of the water. There were no expensive cars and we most certainly didn’t act.
The other time many of us fail to interact is if it’s too painful. If it is confusing or hurtful, we leave it unsaid. Either because we are terrified of the fallout or because we fear what our lives might look like if we say it. Will they judge us? Love us? Hate us? Leave us? And so we button up. We hold it in. We give half the story. The flattering part. The happy part that makes us laugh and smile. Tell the stories that make us look like the good guy. I don’t blame us really. This behavior is human and protective and common. But the problem? It leaves the other half of the conversation assuming things with whatever tools and preconceived notions we carry around granted to us because and by our own life experience. We read in or fail to read so much. We jump to conclusions. We make up reasons for things. We assume things MUST be our fault or a reflection of our value . None of that or all of that may be true but you very well may not know…because we don’t communicate.
What can you do to help? Interact with people – really and truly. Be present. Turn off the technology. Make the memory. Give of yourself, your time and your talent. Aim to be a blessing to others. Let the younger generation see you as you experience your life. The happy, the sad, the painful and the awesome . Teach others the value of passion. The value of work and honesty. Tell people what you are thinking and feeling as you walk through life with them . (Mind you if it is painful or fueled by anger take a beat and walk around the block as to give emotion and circumstance a bit of time to cool off and regain composure.) the key is to remember that we are constantly teaching people how to treat us and if we don’t speak up, things we don’t like may continue and things we do like may stop.
Whatever you do, aim to love. Love people. Love the small pleasures. The good weather. The laughter. The hug of a child. The love your belly triggers when you have an amazing meal. Of friends and family. Someday, when your time comes the actual daily happenings will come to an end but you know how you’ll leave and what you will get to take? Love. Embrace it. It’s already embracing you.