Sliding Otter News 2/11/2012

Talking Face to Face or Facebook to Facebook

Family Talk

Family Talk

What troubles me is the Internet and the electronic technology revolution. Shyness is fueled in part by so many people spending huge amounts of time alone, isolated on
email, in chat rooms, which reduces their face-to-face contact with other people.

~Philip Zimbardo~

I have learned to be comfortable on the Internet, manage email and navigate social media. So far I have resisted the world of smart phones, instant messaging and texting. Part of me thinks I should take the last plunge. Another part fears I might lose myself in the process.

Several years ago my brother and I had a misunderstanding. Due to living six time zones apart, we had no opportunity to talk face to face and had trouble finding each other awake. We tried resolving the problem by email. A disaster! We both tried our best but the more we tried, the worse things got. We finally had an opportunity to talk in person and rediscovered our close relationship.

Ever since then, I realized the dangers of electronic communication. The telephone removed the possibility of reading each other’s expressions. Email removed the inflections in our voices. I am glad we didn’t try this in the age of texting where full words and sentences also disappear.

Social media such as Facebook allow us to share scrapbooks of our lives with our friends, and sometimes, with the whole world. We forget that some things are better kept private and that not everybody wants to know the intimate details of our daily lives.

Recently I attended the Rochester Pops concert, Let’s Dance. The full orchestra, joined by a few guest musicians and a variety of dancers, brought my senses to life and sent me home with a light and joyful heart.

The next morning, I had the pleasure of listening to Pat Fussell sing Robert Mac Gimsey’s piece, Sweet Little Jesus Boy  at St Mark’s Church in LeRoy. She performed this spiritual, usually sung to oneself, as a meditation and told the congregation that we disappeared for her as she sang it. Fortunately, she did not disappear for us and we were able to share the emotions of her meditation as well as her words and melody. After the service, I joined the congregation for coffee, met old friends as well as some new people and felt connected to all of them. Hard to do any of this with email or text messages.

I once heard that it was speech which made us different from other animals. Words are only part of our communication. We communicate much more through the rest of our senses. Why peel away the context and try to connect in truncated phrases?

Communication is much more than transmitting data. Our human environment provides a rich context giving meaning to our lives. Maybe it is time for us to rediscover the context of our communication and its wonders

 Life Lab Lessons

  • Listen to people’s tone, see their expression, sense their meaning.
  • Try listening to yourself in the same way.
  • What strikes you besides mere words?
  • Discover what their communication reveals about them.
  • Discover what your communication says about you.
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