Bzzzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
My students think their texting is less conspicuous if they keep their cell-phones on vibrate. Unfortunately, due to the size of our desks that seem to be leftovers of the finger-painting first grade variety, my high school students pockets are shoved flush up against the wooden desk top, further incriminating their outlawed behavior by their self-centered, vocal devices who will not be ignored.
I can’t blame them, really. I’m just as bad. There’s an iphone shaped pillow in the front drawer of my desk just in case of “ an emergency”. I have checked and re-checked my e-mail more often than my more narcissistic students check their pocket mirrors. Facebook updates of people whose lives honestly haven’t affected mine in decades-or ever- occasionally take precedence over a phone call to a friend I actually care about- and know first hand the happenings of their day to day life because I see them in person; not just in doctored pictures of their latest trip to some tropical locale where they look strikingly thinner and tanner than I remember. With all of the modes of communication that have cropped up in the last few years, you would think our communication as a people would be greatly improved. Instead, I’ve found myself more jittery, more exposed and less understood than ever before.
What’s the problem?
I don’t like when people speak on other’s behalf, so I’m not going to be so presumptuous as to pontificate on the root of the problem in society as a whole, just for me. And me, myself, am on communication overload which disables my ability to communicate effectively at all. In any medium. Written, verbal, in person or otherwise.
What must be done?
As someone who insists that the word “detox” must be loosely translated in other, ancient, more credible languages as “torturous withholding”, I’m forced to take a second look at what that might mean.
In the last week, my husband and I have stopped using all electronic devices upon arriving home from work. It wasn’t a discussion we had, or something we felt particularly convicted about. I think, both of us just knew instinctively that it was time to distance ourselves a bit from things that hold little importance. No carrying cell-phones waiting for an “important” call, no humming, buzzing background ESPN noise emitting from the television, no gentle glow of the laptop highlighting my favorite food blogs or summer concert series. And, you know something? We had dinner together. At the table. With dinnerware. And wine. And laughed about real life things- not our favorite clips on youtube. We sat on our front porch and read books and watched our neighbor pick up litter from the sidewalk and practiced a song on the guitar. Then, later on, we purposefully chose a movie to watch together. Because we wanted to see it, not just to have it on. And you know what? Nobody called me. When I checked Facebook the following morning, the same people I don’t really know were complaining about the same things that are completely and utterly irrelevant to my life, mainly with irritating spelling errors and abbreviations I still don’t know the meanings of. I had no e-mails save ones that remind me to use my frequent flier miles. And thus I have come to the following conclusion:
Communication can only be considered as such if it is meaningful and executed with purpose on both ends.