Guest column: Communication breakdown?
Ryan Summerlin January 29, 2014
Last week, while I was having a face-to-face discussion with Lily Baran, the subject of cellphones came up. Lily mentioned that she had been to dinner the previous evening and seated next to her was a table of four diners.
One person was talking on a cellphone, another was texting, and a third was playing some kind of cellphone game. The fourth person? Probably looking for someone to talk to!
Sadly, this is a common scene in restaurants and other places where communication should be pleasurable. Even at our own dining room tables, we fall short when it comes to listening to others and verbalizing our thoughts.
Communicating need not always be an intellectual discussion with teaching and learning components. However, our thoughts and words need to be expressed, no matter how mundane.
Not to mention the words of others to whom we need to pay attention. Appreciating the words of others and having our own words valued, brings one joy and enlightenment.
The conversation with Lily sparked a deep resentment in both of us. Like all humans, we need to feel appreciation for our thoughts and the thoughts of others. Surely, we can read each other’s emails and texts, we can watch TV and listen to beautiful music.
But where is the interaction when we read, watch and listen when not physically present? How much better to be able to react instantly to what we are seeing and hearing.
Yes, the phone is a good way to have that instant communication, but, do we see the facial expressions of the caller? Is it possible to give the caller a warm hug or a kiss?
Can we see the caller’s reaction to what we say? It may be tears or perhaps a warm smile. We just don’t know.
When I feel deeply about something, a poem is born. Here is the poem that resulted from Lily’s and my talk:
Our brains are on vacation;
There’s no communication.
What has caused this mind-migration?
Is there cause for celebration?
What’s your interpretation
Of this sad situation?
Just put down the smart? cell phone;
Your babbling makes me groan.
If you drive and become vexed,
It’s because you try to text.
You can not even mask
Your attempts to multitask.
When you’re texting on your cell,
Your driving goes to hell.
Face-to-face talk to a friend.
A clearer message you will send.
Are you blue-eyed or brown?
You are always looking down.
It’s time to come alive,
And in PRESENT time survive!
Shut your eyes to the TV
So that REAL life you will see.
If your ears are now assaulted,
The loud music should be halted.
When you listen with “heart-ears ,”
Words more meaningful appear.
Let’s get back among the living
And experience the giving.
Feel the moment and be in it;
Life’s too short to waste one minute!
Judy Morrison, a retired “traditional’ school teacher and Montessori teacher, has been a resident of Incline Village for the last 16 years.