I’ll be the fist to admit I don’t truly enjoy talking on the phone with people, in general. There are those extra easy relationships that allow for simple, natural phone and in-person conversations, but outside of those I’d rather send a text or email. You may wonder how I am a public speaker if I dislike talking, or how effective of a success coach I am if direct communication is not my favorite. To answer those questions, let’s first solve the mystery, the ultimate question of, “Where did the art of communication go?”
I love reading books written long ago, likewise I love history and shows or movies set in earlier times. So, it is easy for me to recognize a difference in the way people prefer to communicate now versus what communication looked like in different stages of history. Obviously, today’s technology plays a large role in the newfound preference of hideaway communication. Hideaway communication simply represents a style of communicating from behind a screen, whether it be through text, email, on social media, messaging, or on chat. I would add writing letters to that, but even that artform is nearly extinct. Think back to what you know of the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. Humans literally invited each other to places or into their homes specifically to talk, to gossip, or to catch up on community happenings. Another form of chat I think of from before is a simple promenade between a courting man and woman. Today most go on dates, which is similar, but even that has shifted largely to online dating and texting as a means of getting to know one another between short dates or visits.
What other styles of communicating can you think of that thrived in the past but are nearly non-existent now?
Have you noticed how brave people suddenly become when hidden away behind a computer or phone? I use the term “brave” very loosely here because it’s almost always negative communication. For example, comments on social media posts or the posts themselves have become negative, accusatory, aggressive, unnecessarily defensive, and just downright hateful. It’s easy for many to feel a sort of power behind the safety of distance and a screen, when that same person would almost never vocalize those same words face to face with someone. Technology isn’t going away, so we just have to do better. We have to teach young children how to handle emotions, use words and gestures, and interact face-to-face with others. We have to help adolescents and teens put the phones down and understand how to play or have conversations directly with their peers. I would even encourage writing letters or sending cards with meaningful messages through snail mail!
For societies to thrive, positive and clear communication is vital. Students who complete school virtually are perfectly capable of also thriving in face-to-face social settings. The same goes to adults who work virtually or spend most of their time in virtual settings. I know this because I, in fact, work from home for a virtual public school and would consider myself a mastery level communicator and speaker. Virtual communication is a very important skill, but there must be balance in mastering both: virtual and in-person communications. When given the right tools, anyone and everyone can succeed at this.
So, where did the art of communication go? We may never fully understand the answer to that, but I daresay it got lost in cyberspace. So, next time you think about sending a text to a friend, consider calling them instead. Consider writing a letter to someone or asking a friend to meet just to talk over coffee or dinner. If you are a parent, incorporate face-to-face play time for your child and put your phone and devices down when interacting with your little ones. We can do better, and it’s imperative we do. The art of communication is too important to be lost.