Communication is defined as “the imparting or exchange of thoughts, opinions or information by speech, writing or signs“. There is something missing in the definition. True communication includes the conveyance of emotions. Emotions, as of themselves or emotions to clarify the thoughts and opinions.
I previously worked in the chain drug business. The chain drug industry has always been synonymous with photo finishing. I started in 1979, when you dropped of your film and picked up pictures in a few days. The anticipation over those days! And then, sharing those memories with family and friends. Reenacting the expression on your face stepping onto space mountain, the dreamy look in your eyes recalling the full moon off the beach with your spouse that night. That was communication. Your listener actually could feel part of the emotions you felt. They could share in a small way your feelings at the time. Now as society has advanced communications 10 fold, through technology we have, at the same time killed real communication. With phones of millions of mega pixels we snap everything. No thought if it is a special moment. We snap selfies that no one cares about. We post our photos to Facebook with maps that proclaim “we are here”. We protect our photos allowing some to see these and only some to see others. We include captions with so many abbreviations that readers need a Facebook dictionary to follow, OMG. But where is the emotions? Where are the feeling you had as that event happened?
There is great auto insurance commercial out right now, where the older woman has photos pinned over her living room wall and friends sitting before them. She talks of how much time she is saving “posting her photos to her WALL”. Another friend argues with her and she exclaims, “I un-friend you”. They are making fun of the lady’s lack of understanding of technology, but I say she is communicating more than any seasoned Facebooker.
Another favorite commercial was just out for Valentines by a jewelry company. A man sits across from his significant other at a restaurant. He tries to gain her attention as she is consumed texting. As he looks across the room, everyone is buried in their smart phones and tablets. He finally concedes, pulls out his smart phone and texts the lady to look up. As she does she finds he is holding a box with jewelry in it. She was communicating soooo much she almost blew a beautiful necklace.
But was she communicating on her smart phone? She was passing up the opportunity to speak with and share emotions with her significant other as she escaped true communication and shared empty words and text with someone not even present. We have advance communication so far that it has become sterile and lacking emotion. We pass up true in person communication for short factual texts, devoid of emotion, and without emotion I question if they are truly communicating. We pass up making a call in favor of a text or email. We ignore opportunities for personal communication as we bury ourselves in our Facebook page.
I am as guilty of this as any. The fact that I write a blog proves this. The technology is not at fault. It is our use of it. I am not anti-technology. One of the greatest events in my life happened because of online communication. I met my wife through an online dating site. I can’t imagine life without her and without online dating that may have happened. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and rants on this blog. Yes I have a Facebook page, twitter account and all of the other popular on-line communication toys. I hope I never allow them to replace person to person communication. I hope I still share my emotions with others. I hope I still find time to pick up the phone to talk to a friend. When I stop doing this I become no more significant than the technology I embrace. I become dehumanized.
Now if you will excuse me, I need to put this lap top up and talk to my wife.