I have a lot of communication failures. I interrupt people a lot, face to face… I also am not always very good at being clear, putting things in context. I think too fast, I’m 20 steps ahead of the conversation, and I think like a bumblebee, so I’ll share the end of a conversation before the beginning, which leaves a lot of people lost or thinking I’m nuts. It takes a rare person to really dig me out of that hole, patiently, and get all the little details from all the hidden corners in my head that can make what I’m saying whole and not nutty. They have to ask the right questions… and they have to let me run.
There are some things that I appreciate about written (typed, these days) communication. I hang out a lot in private chat rooms and on forums. Of course there’s always the issue of misunderstandings – with written communication, there’s no facial expressions, no intonation, no body language, to clue you into what people really mean, so sometimes you filter what people are saying through your own lens, your own bias, your own emotions and preconceived notions… I’ve misunderstood others, and I’ve been misunderstood – I was recently accused of being sarcastic to someone when I meant to be supportive and uplifting. It happens.
However, normally I find writing ideal. I have horrible problems with my short-term memory. I forget to eat, I forget what I just said… I go over and over a list of things to pack in my purse the night before I leave to go somewhere… and still end up asking my husband to turn the car around five minutes out of the house, because somehow, despite all my lists and planning ahead, I’ve still forgotten the most important things.
That issue spreads to public conversations. I end up interrupting people a lot – not because I’m rude, or because I don’t want to hear what they have to say… I’m genuinely interested in what you think and how you feel, what you know, who you are. However, because of my memory dysfunction and my rampant disorganization, if I don’t tell you what I’m thinking when I think it, it gets lost… and sometimes, it’s not only pertinent and important, it’s something that will push the boundaries of both our minds, and our conversation… There are idle thoughts in my mind all the time… and some of them are things that the world should probably know and doesn’t seem to have thought of yet. That’s not ego, though I know it sounds like it… I have a perspective that, I’ve been told by everyone who’s ever spoken to me, no one else seems to have… I get people copying and pasting my stuff to their computers to ruminate over later… I think it’s silly, because I’m not saying anything that wasn’t obvious, but apparently I have a way of putting things together from multiple sources and creating a picture that resonates with people in a deeply important and personal way, and moves them forward in their own life journeys… and I think it’s important that I keep doing that, even if I feel most of the crap in my head is perfectly obvious, because it’s been made clear to me by everyone I’ve ever know that it’s actually NOT.
So I interrupt, so those tidbits don’t get lost. I admit, it’s a terrible way to communicate – in fact it throws other people off quite a bit. When things are written down, I can go back and refer to the conversation, and stay on track. Shoot, I can have eight conversations at once, and everyone gets their share of communicating happening… no one loses their train of thought, everything gets said – it’s fantastic. Unfortunately, most of my family and close personal friends aren’t willing to sit down at a keyboard to talk to me… I spend a vast part of my life either in dead silence, or in large doses of frenetic interruptions. I hang out in forums and private chat-rooms to get my social interaction… and I admit it’s not at all the same as face to face time – and it’s not very healthy for my brain… but it works for me, so it’s what I use.
But I don’t think that my personal communication crises are the real issue in our current society, actually. I think that for me, the internet has been a huge success… but I’m noticing a trend that I’m NOT happy with.
I’m talking about those passive aggressive one-liners. And before you pick me apart on passive aggressive posts, I will admit, I’m as guilty of passive aggression as the next person. I KNOW I’m guilty… I rant and rave about behaviors I find disagreeable, without EVER confronting the guilty people (though if I really go off on someone, it’s usually because I went off on them in person, and they continued to behave like morons around me)… but I at least say why I’m ranting, I say what’s going on that I have such a problem with, and why I think it’s such a problem. I give enough information that people understand what I’m getting at, and it doesn’t matter who did it. The posts I have a problem with, though, are the ones where the comments are deliberately leaving out just enough information to get a whole bunch of people stirred up to ask what, who, etc. Those kinds of leading passive aggressive posts irritate me more than a sandpaper lavage. It’s high-school… like, “Well, you’re a dick, today, aren’t you?” Everyone rushes in to say, “Aww, poor baby, who pissed in your Cheerios? We’ll hate on him too, for you.” It’s a bullshit way to deal with your problems.
It seems to be a general trend in social interaction in our post-Facebook society… it’s a form of backstabbing that immature children apparently aren’t growing out of because, instead of socializing face to face, they get to brutalize each other online and not face the consequences. And apparently, that kind of childishness is catching, because more and more properly socialized adults, who grew up drinking from the hose and DREAMING of owning an Atari, are acting like that, too. Honestly, I think Twitter and Facebook have ruined real communication… it’s rare that I actually find anything worth reading on Twitter, and when I do, it’s not a tweet, it’s usually a link to something that someone’s taken the time to write a whole article about.
In all seriousness, I’ll admit that I like a good snappy comeback as much as the next sarcastic bitch, but I need more context than 140 characters. Facebook Memes are cute… but again, what have memes really got to do with honest interaction? It’s a way of saying, I thought this was funny but didn’t care enough about it to actually think of a personal slogan, so instead I copied and pasted THIS. I’m just as guilty – a lot that I post on my own Facebook feed is like that, with the exception of links… and even then I feel like a parrot half the time – because it’s not my material. It might be amazing, beautiful, thought-provoking, delightful, a discovery that everyone should hear about… but I don’t say what I think about it, I simply share it and move on.
I’m a writer – unpublished, sure, but I still write, daily. I LIVE by words… I DIE by them. I breathe, eat, and sleep with words. If you took away all my books, I’d probably kill you and your entire species trying to save them… and if I still lost, I would be bereft. The creative genius that lives inside each world I explore, the minds and hearts of others, is just as important to me as sharing my own with you… possibly more so. Words give meaning to my world… even when those words truly have no meaning and are as plastic and flexible as time’s effect on social mores.
To say that I’m not speaking my thoughts, that I’ve somehow become a parrot, is deeply wounding, even when it’s truth. It’s like ripping my heart from my chest and screaming at the ashes, “There lies my purpose!” Imagine the horror of watching every living, breathing, thinking human being (and all the ones that aren’t) become puppets.
It’s a tide that cannot be turned, I know. There is no true way to make you speak up, to tell me your thoughts and feelings, to garner your true self. As long as there are memes and communication is limited to a mere 140 characters, my world is a dinosaur, overtaken by zombies… zombies I want to shake and shake and shake, while I scream “TELL ME WHO YOU ARE! PLEASE!”
I feel… loss when I look at my news stream. I feel adrift in a sea of useless, meaningless babble. Where are you, and why won’t you talk to me? If you’re reading, why won’t you tell me what you really think?
Your thoughts and feelings are not meaningless… they matter to me as much as my own… perhaps more. If I cannot match my sword against your own… how will I ever refine my practice, and become the dancer I long to be, the artist with steel that I so adore in others? Pick up your pen, pick up your keyboards and speak to me. Give honor to your throat and to your heart. Give honor to your soul and to your mind. This is a new world, full of mindlessness… but I know you have a mind to tell me what you think, even when you don’t.
I’d like to get to know it. I’d like to roll in your thoughts like a nymphomaniac rolls in sex. Stimulate me, battle with me, agree with me, start up a discourse, help me refine myself and let me refine you!
Do not fail yourself. Do not fail the world. You have amazing things to offer – no one thinks like you, no one feels like you, no one sees the world the way you do… even people who agree with you have different reasons and different backgrounds and different experiences leading them to that agreement, and that agreement is NEVER whole. Celebrate those differences… stop hiding from them.
If we don’t talk, and we don’t listen… what will we all become?