Today there are ever more ways in which we can communicate so why is that we are not communicating? People e-mail, text, Skype, telephone but are we talking with each other, or at each other?
My recent experience makes me believe that we are censoring each other to suit ourselves. How many times have you received an incoming call on your mobile, looked at the name that came up on the screen and pressed the off button? Admit it, we all have. Or do you respond to the call at all if it states “unknown number” on your screen? Many of us don’t, including, I have to admit on most occasions, myself.
This all seems strange in light of the fact that we have all seen people in cars, buses, trains or simply walking along talking to others on their mobiles as if they were in a small universe of their own. Talking to someone on your mobile who is somewhere else is normal enough as a small part of life we all have to do some of the time, but is it essential most of the time as it seems to be for some, most of the time? What’s even more odd is that many times the person speaking on their handset is walking along with a companion who they are totally ignoring.
I can well understand trying to control our own time and space by using all these modern conveniences to be master of our own small universe, but it can rapidly become obsessive. There are several recent reports of blogaholics, particularly technical bloggers, who have had heart attacks trying to keep abreast of the unending torrent of new technical development relentlessly coming on stream. No one can keep up with this, and it isn’t necessary.
You can take all this to a ridiculous extreme resulting in your not communicating at all. Instead of using all these wonderful tools to communicate you use them to create a series of ever-higher walls behind which we can cower. It is, ultimately cowardice for us to filter our phone calls and e-mails and to pretend we use them to communicate when what we are really doing is limiting access to ourselves.
Remember when fax machines were the new communication wonder? I was prone to instant response to any fax I received, thinking that the fact that an incoming fax had arrived with urgency I should deal with it in the same way. My late father was a wise old bird and he told me that just because the communications came quicker I didn’t have to respond faster. I suggest the same is true with all our modern methods of electronic communication. Let everyone have access to your public platforms, but think for as long as you need before responding. Some times you will not even want to do that, and it’s entirely up to you.
But, and this is the big BUT, when that someone trying to communicate with you is your friend or family, then try and get in the same place with them, and look them in the eye and talk with each other. There is, in the end, no substitute.