Virtually NO Real Communication

Have you found yourself watching and listening to the protestors, liberal talk show hosts and guests, politicians from the left, and even some from the right, and felt a bit uncomfortable at the anti-Independent, anti-Federalist, anti-American message that seems to be the common thread in pretty much all of what you see and hear from them?

A Generation of “Non-Thinkers”

What at the birth of pocket electronics our parents were warning us about is coming true: laptops, smartphones, video games, and public school teachers are in large part “dumbing-down” an entire generation of Americans. First it was video games: we’ve come a long way since Pong! Then the internet, laptops, Wifi, satellite communication, culminating (at least so far) with social media.

I have laughed at the television commercial now airing that shows a group of young adults sitting in a den around a coffee table on two facing sofas with two end chairs, all with their smart phones in their hands and none talking to each other. That scene would have never happened 30 years ago. Why? Besides the fact there were NO smart phones 30 years ago, social culture still dictated REAL communication as the norm among people. And without electronic communication available, Americans relied on broadcast radio and television, hard print newspapers, and don’t forget conversations! 30 years ago is NOT today. And today regarding communication is NOT 30 years ago. “We’ve come a long way, Baby!” (Who remembers that line from a television commercial?) Communication now depends on electronics and has pretty much eliminated face-to-face talks, real discussions, and certainly the verbal in-person conversations.

Social Media

I’m a Baby Boomer, so “the” social media that I am most accustomed to is Facebook. I know it wasn’t the first, but it is the first to be so easy for people worldwide to access for mostly anonymous communications with people everywhere. There are those who maintain Facebook and other social media sites have opened the world to our children to learn about other people, other countries, and other cultures. While that is definitely true, that good comes at a great price.

It almost seems to me that the hours we spend on social media — writing, browsing, reading — has repossessed our ability to truly communicate with each other. After all, isn’t it easier, quicker, and briefer than picking up the phone (or simply closing Facebook and dialing) and calling someone instead of a Facebook message or post? Those who disagree might rebut that by saying using social media gives one a chance to get ALL their thoughts on any given subject out without interruptions that require answers which result in watered down overall results. I say, “No way.”

The art of communication is lost. It has gotten so bad that even the old telephone calls have gone by the wayside. How so? Texting. Here’s an example:

Our 2 daughters live in the same town as us. We have 6 grandchildren between them that are involved in EVERYTHING: football, basketball, soccer, plays, etc. There is literally something happening 7 days a week that we “need” to attend. Being a fairly organized man, my method of coordinating attendance at these events is to make 2 phone calls: 1 to Kimbi (the oldest) and 1 to Kori (the youngest.) My wife, on the other hand, begins texting. An hour later she still is not sure who’s playing where, what play and who stars in it, and if, when, and who needs to be picked up at school. Wouldn’t a 2 minute phone call be easier? It is for me.

So why the anonymity of texting, emailing, or social media posts rather than speaking directly to whomever to get an accurate answer? My use of the word “anonymity” in the previous sentence is not accidental. In our helter skelter society, almost all of us would rather be as anonymous as possible in our communications. I’m no shrink, but my analysis of the “Why?” in that is this: direct communication requires at least 2 to participate. And direct communication participation requires question, response, commitment, and then the big bad one: ACCOUNTABILITY. That’s the one that drives this boat.

Coach Mickey Slaughter — former Denver Broncos quarterback, longtime Offensive Coordinator/Genius at Louisiana Tech — when commenting on anonymous posters on a college bulletin board tried to calm me down one day when I expressed my anger and disgust at some of the things those posters were saying that were untrue and very snarky. Coach Slaughter said, “Dan, don’t worry about those guys. They can say that stuff because they’re just drive-by shooters.” He hit the nail on the head: being anonymous has its virtues. Nobody knows who you are. Nobody can hold you accountable for what you say.

Social media posting is usually a little different: it’s not usually anonymous. But isn’t it easier to say something — especially when what is going to be said is not nice — without having to look the person being told in the face? No accountability.

Facebook

No other media has given people from almost every country the ability to express themselves like Facebook. I’m sure you will agree that people certainly take advantage of that. Some of the most ignorant, outrageous, and ridiculous things I have read in my life appear on Facebook. I often just shake my head and scroll on.

The 2016 election brought the “anonymous-es” out of the woodwork. There was so much venom spewed at/about/to every presidential candidate I am surprised someone didn’t die of snake bite! But you must agree that Donald Trump received more than his fair share of Facebook posts and messages. And, yes, he was in a constant Twitter-storm, often of his own doing.

But that social media cycle brought the communication lunacy we live in to the forefront for all to see. It is true that many Americans especially are perfectly willing to express themselves on every social media platform as they should be able to do: the 1st Amendment. But using social media as their platform means they can (and do) say anything with no accountability. And sadly it seems that a far greater number of Americans than I expected joined those conversations while agreeing almost totally with everything they heard or read being posted. The truth of the abysmal state of communication in America was pushed to front-and-center in 2016.

Sadly though it’s still out there going strong. Internet sites like Snopes.com and PolitiFact make pretty good income by simply researching and supposedly correcting false information posted in news stories and in social media. Unfortunately those 2 sites and others in the same business are often as incorrect as the stories they endeavor to debunk.

The horror to me in all of this is how much untruth there is in the public domain and how much is accepted as fact by far too many. Because we now live in an “instant electronic information” world, it seems that everyone is far too willing to just take what they see or hear as fact. We don’t communicate which means we don’t question and we don’t hunger for the truth like we did formerly. And that’s scary.

I just gave-up trying to have reasonable political conversations with some of my best friends during the 2016 campaign. Rather than wage a war of words, I actually blocked several dozen and actually unfriended a dozen more.

Facebook literally fuels the communication method of “talking at” rather than “talking to” those with whom we wish to communicate. And because of this instant electronic atmosphere in which we live, when we speak to others in soundbytes rather than full sentences, there is far too much space between the words for others emotions to interpret exactly what those words meant instead of conversing to find out for certain.

So the slide into horror begins: we think they said something that hurt our feelings. What do we do? We don’t respond or communicate. We simply make a decision about them based on what we thought they meant. THEN we say something back to them based on that emotion we feel rather than on the fact upon which what they said was based. THEY then receive what we respond with, and because we did not “speak” to them, only “posted” our response, they get mad because of what they “think” we meant. See how ridiculous and how dangerous it gets and how emotionally it escalates like a fire?

Summary

So what do we do? Should we delete Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, and the other social media platforms? I am not certain that would be the right thing to do. But we SHOULD think through how individually we are impacted by social media — especially how it impacts how we communicate with others.

As for me, I am so worn out by being attacked on all sides for simply being a Conservative, I’ve made some decisions:

  • I’m going to accept my role as a Deplorable. After all, I’m a Southern “former” Republican;
  • I’m going to quit my job, apply for unemployment, move to California where I can easily draw welfare, MediCal, and subsidized housing;
  • Even though I’ve never tried marijuana, I think medically I probably could “prove” I need some. So I’ll give it a whirl;
  • I’m pretty certain I have some Native American blood in my veins. That’s gotta be worth a little extra for me;
  • I already changed my voter party affiliation to “Independent.” I’ll just go ahead and change it to “Democrat” so I’ll fit in.

I’ve been married for 43 years to the same woman. That of course is not politically correct. So I’m thinking about divorce. But that brings up a dilemma for me: (Remember I’m a Southerner, and we go to family reunions to get dates!)

If I divorce her, will she still be my sister?

 


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