Over these past few weeks I have really been thinking about communication.
In my work at my full-time job I seek to communicate a message about the experience of higher education. In my artwork I seek to communicate many different messages through visuals - love, sorrow, the flaws of our world. In my relationships, I seek to communicate in order to understand and connect with those I care about.
Communication is the connecting of ideas or an idea between two people, but why is it so difficult for us to do effectively? Why is it so difficult to express our ideas sometimes?
I am frequently guilty of over-analyzing any given situation and putting my thoughts into other people. (By that I mean that I frequently assume the thoughts & feelings of others based on how I would react rather than by who they are and how they respond to things.) It comes down to being too self-focused, and not really listening well enough to what the other person is meaning, not just saying.
When I finally pull myself back, take away the haze of my personal feelings and thoughts, and come back to actually listening, everything is much clearer and I often find that any disagreements that existed were merely twisted bits of miscommunication. I think that we as people are too frequently duped by these bits to see that in general we are all seeking the same things. Why does this happen?
On the major topics circulating society, I think the polarization of opinions and encouragement from the media to pick a side often causes these rifts. Along with this I think the general “noise” of debates where people seem to be merely screaming at one another to see who is louder rather than sitting down in a rational discussion makes it difficult for anyone to think clearly.
Perhaps this “rift” is created as a form of protection, or self-preservation, if you will. If something feels contrary to our line of thought, it can often feel intimidating. So what do we do? Alienate and become defensive, for the most part. It makes sense, but unfortunately this impulsive repulse probably causes more conflicts between people than anything else. Once “our” discussion turns to “me” discussing this with “them” the tension seems to escalate in an often unstoppable manner.
I think there is a hopeful shift happening in our culture as people begin to understand the importance of hearing both sides of any topic clearly. Being uninformed often leads to fear, as it is this vague idea, conflict, or person that we cannot seem to connect with (or have been told not to). Fear divides and drives the rifts to expand between the two (or more) sides. While I think that our society is starting to pay more attention to the whole picture of any given conflict, I think it is still so important that we, as individuals, challenge ourselves to be a little vulnerable in order to clear away some of the miscommunications that happen.
Honesty, trust, and respect are essential to maintain when communicating. Once you lose any of these things, the rift forms and the messages often become lost or distorted.
If only our world could communicate more clearly. Imagine - wars, government issues, moral issues, most any conflict - these things could be handled so entirely differently if we could communicate our thoughts with respect for the needs and desires of those we are in conflict with.
We have been given some incredible tools for communication through technology. Unfortunately a good portion (or perhaps majority) of the “streams” of information have been swamped by advertising or useless instagrams of food or surface-like “conversations” between facebook friends.
What if our conversations and our communications as the human race were working towards a unified goal? What if we all worked towards understanding one another and making this world better rather than merely glorifying ourselves through the purchase of some new fancy boots (guilty) or showing how much fun we are having drinking coffee or some alcoholic beverage with friends?
What if we talked about things that mattered all the time? Perhaps it would be overwhelming, and we limit our consumption of these discussions because we all recognize that there are deep problems within our society that we are not sure how to fix.. but what if we faced those problems together?
This post is getting too “ra-ra” for my comfort zone. I wish I could fix all the problems in the world, alas, I am but a single individual working to pay off my student loans while figuring out how in the world I am supposed to function in such a fast-paced society.
Even still, I think there are so many things left unsaid that should be discussed, and far too many things that we waste our time talking about or being fascinated with that are absolutely useless in the grand scheme of things. Meaningless mleh.
I am challenging myself to stop every time I start to assume or become defensive in a conversation. I will keep down the walls and retain trust in order to better connect with those around me. I am not afraid of differences - it is something I believe we as a human race should embrace. It’s the seasoning to our soup.
And I challenge you, oh vast world, (though more likely just a few individuals who will actually see this) to focus your efforts on having enriched, purpose-filled, trusting and fear-free conversations with the people around you. Make your life matter by doing and talking about things that matter.
Bonne nuit, mes amis.
My dear friend Kristen & I created our first video project (and our first collaborative project together).. I had such a fun time figuring out how to incorporate what I know from photography into this video project, and it’s exciting to be part of a competition.
Feel free to vote for the video to help support our chances as making it as the official video for the Civil Wars’ song “20 Years”.
Win or not, it was a ton of fun.