Sunday, 10 December 2017

Lack of Communication

Dinner time at our home usually proceeds this way: I place the meal on the table and call out "Dinner!" and there's no response.  I often have to repeat the call, followed up by "It's getting cold!" in order to get people to tear themselves away from their devices and come to the table.  Conversation tends to be limited to which bosses have been beaten, their in-game accomplishments, or how other players have robbed them of opportunities.  Questions like "How was your day?" or "Did you learn anything new?" are met with "meh" or silence.  After the meal everyone rushes back to whatever game/video/activity they were involved in, leaving me to do the cleanup.

I'm certain this scenario is common in many households.

People hardly speak to each other these days.  I mean, actually talk.  Most communications now occur in the form of emails, status messages, and 140 character statements - all of which can be easily misinterpreted if the right words aren't used.

Compounding the issue, particularly in public, is the ugly spectre of harrassment.  Men are reluctant to say anything for fear of being misunderstood or thought of as creepy.  Women are careful about what they say for fear of saying something that a man might construe as her leading him on, or worse, insulting him.

Certain subjects are now taboo or thought of as "triggers" for those who have experienced trauma of some sort or have controversial opinions.  There were several people I knew who would become extremely loud, judgmental, and even racist during any conversation about politics or immigration.

It doesn't stop there.

Good communication goes hand in hand with learning.  To learn something one must be able to discuss ideas coherently.  Sadly there are those who refuse to do so because it conflicts with their own pre-conceived notions, and they resort to attacking anyone who tries to present them with a different point of view.

A comment on a recent David Gerrold rant about the views of the extreme right in the U.S. reads: "We are in the midst of a crisis, and the Constitution and our democratic system of government is under attack.  It's clear that day by day they become bolder and less concerned about hiding their perfidy, their treasonous acts against the American people.  They clothe themselves in religion and false doctrine, sow doubt and fear, attack the free press and the 1st and 4th Amendments, stack the courts, obstruct all progress."

Think about how much better the world would be if more people stopped hiding behind a screen (of any kind) and just talked to each other.  About anything.  Who knows, they might actually learn something.

1 comment:

  1. I actually find that I manage to find occasions for real communication, both in person and at a distance via the internet.

    I hear a lot of adults decrying the use of technology in the classroom, talking about the "good old days" when kids had to rely on books in school and families sat around the dinner table every night. I also remember what it was like to try to do research for a project when the school library didn't have the necessary books. And I knew plenty of families whose dinnertime conversation consisted of little more than, "Pass the potatoes," and "What's for dessert."

    If anything, I think that this technological age just highlights what was already wrong with our communication skills. It amplifies the solitary habits of introverts and provides a screen of anonymity for those who were already bigoted. It also allows more people to jump on any particular bandwagon, just by clicking the like button or posting a quick comment. There's no longer a need to think about or compose a response. A simple, "I like it," will do.

    We don't make a specific time in our house to talk. But I do make sure that we talk. Really talk. I take time to talk to my girls about the things they are living and about current events. We talk about religion, politics, ethics, cooking, medicine, agriculture, or anything else that interests us. It may not be every night at the supper table. But it's genuine conversation, and I know my girls will remember it.