Communication is hard, it really is, you’ve got two people trapped in their own subjective realities attempting to relate to one another. The fact that anyone manages it at all is downright miraculous. Before I lament, I want to just take a second to note how remarkable language really is, how totally crazy it is that we can now write words and send them through the internet and someone else can receive them.
I must say however, I think our communication skills are declining. I am forever asking, can people actually intellectually de-evolve? You notice these things as you get older and they tend to drive you crazy. I love language so I often read a lot of books from the “olden days.” Take a look at “War and Peace” and now go peek at something like “50 Shades of Gray” and tell me we aren’t in a great deal of trouble here. People no longer write letters to one another and our debate skills are now pathetic at best. We losing some ground here. So much for “progress.”
I was reading a letter to the editor in the local paper the other day and what makes these things so painful is that I often know the people involved. The letter itself was well written, simple, concise, and perhaps controversial, although it just seemed like common sense to me. The first comment to come along, “Shut up, You’re stupid.”
“Shut up, you’re stupid” is not remarkable on the internet, it’s quite common, but in this case I know the man who wrote it. Not only is English his native language, he actually has a degree in it. For anyone who has long forgotten the lessons of first grade, “Shut up you’re stupid” is a childish gesture designed to shut down the conversation. It’s kind of like anti-communication. Not only are these people not in first grade anymore, they’re all well past the half century mark.
Sadly, “shut up, you’re stupid” did not shut down the conversation. It simply devolved from there on out, actual “communication” all but forgotten.
I feel a bit like Miss Grundy here, lecturing the class, but in an attempt to embiggen the realm of critical thinking, I’m going to share one of my favorite definitions from Wikipedia, “Communication” is the act of conveying intended meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs and semiotic rules. “Semiotic” is the study of how meaning is created or the the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.
Communication is actually an exchange, a two-way street. It is the business of conveying intended meanings back and forth between entities.
A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious woman are alike; He who would restrain her restrains the wind, And grasps oil with his right hand. Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:15-17
There is iron sharpening iron and then there are the ones whose pocket knife we take away, sanding down the blade first, least they hurt themselves.