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by Frank Reed
I tend to write about things that are “on my radar.” Many times it’s something that has gotten me excited in either a good or bad way. Well, this one is always a hot button for me and it needs to be for all of us “netizens.” Communication. Simple good old-fashioned two-way communication that achieves the goal of, dare I say, communicating. I fear for the future of communication. I think we are possibly slipping into a Dark Age of sorts regarding communication, where we THINK we communicate more but all we are really doing is talking / writing / yelling / marketing / “you name it” more, without truly communicating. If you have read anything by me on this subject, I apologize, but it is my suspicion that for the rest of my life this will be a subject matter that will stay hot.

It has been said that there is “nothing new under the sun.” For those of you who think that some great philosopher of the past couple hundred years coined this one I will point you to my reference which is the from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes 1:9. I go to this reference because despite being written around 250 B.C. but I think it applies perfectly today. What we do today on the internet is actually nothing new.
Right now you are thinking, “Looks like Frank has lost it,” but hear me out. As much as we want to pat ourselves on the back for all the innovation and technology and progress we surround ourselves with we are not doing anything new at the core here. What I mean is we are simply refining how we communicate. From the first syllable uttered by man, to the first written word, to the first printed word, to the first phone call, to the first TV set, to the first e-mail, it’s all about one thing: communication. Nothing new. Nothing revolutionary. Something that has been around since man has existed. There is nothing new under the sun.
We Twitter (or tweet), we have Facebook pages, we have LinkedIn profiles, we have blogs, and everything else ad nauseum. My question to you, however, is, “Are you truly communicating better?” Just because more people read or hear you, does it mean that they understand or even care about you? I doubt it. I suspect we are creating more of a social norm that ANY communication can now be called a relationship. I think there is more using than communicating. I enjoyed Stacy Lukas’ rant on this same subject and it made me think. What I am I doing to contribute to this watering down (or even dumbing down) of this critically important and basic component of being part of the human race?
For the upcoming year, I am going to make sure I don’t dehumanize myself or the people I call friends any further. I plan to do this by:

  1. At a minimum, calling people that I want to know better so they can see that they can hear my voice.
  2. Getting in a car or on a plane to meet people that I really want to have a relationship with, so we can shake hands (after using a hand sanitizer of course since we all don’t get out much and would hate to catch something ;-) ).
  3. Asking more questions of people so I can more fully understand WHY they say or do something, rather than just nodding my head and for lack of a better term, dismissing their thought.
  4. ,li>Never using the word “friend” as a verb. (Facebook folks please stop this practice so we can actually apply the word to real friendships again, thanks.)

  5. Writing a note or sending a card to someone. I know that when I receive a handwritten note these days, I take real notice. (And PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, not one of those form notes that look handwritten. Could you say, “I am a fake” any louder?)
  6. At least using Skype to look at someone when I speak to them!

Oh, there’s more but I’ll save that for another day. So please remember that all we are doing here is communicating. Don’t confuse innovation with communication. Don’t confuse informing or tweeting or IM’ing or any other technique we are getting more wrapped up in with communication. It’s really not, in most cases. It’s just noise that allows us to say that we communicated with more folks than ever. The last thing we all need right now is something else that isn’t real, telling us that it is.
Happy New Year!

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2 replies to this post
  1. Thanks for this post. I have to say, I’m not sure there are a lot of folks out there who are truly savvy about social media that would disagree with you. I’ve heard the ‘these are all simply ways to communicate’ observation many times. That seems fairly obvious to me. I’m finding these platforms (Twitter, IM, FaceBook, LinkedIn, etc.) a great way to stay in touch with people I’ve met. I’ll run into someone I haven’t seen in a couple years and can ask how they home remodel is going, how the newborn is doing and so forth because I’m following them online. It definitely makes me feel closer to them and definitely doesn’t detract from the relationship at all; it enriches it. Occasionally I even run into people at parties or events who I’ve ‘met’ online through friends and it’s actually pretty cool to be able to say, “Hey, great to finally meet you in person!” That’s happened to me a couple times lately and I’ve gone on to strike up great ‘offline’ personal and professional relationships with these people.
    I get what you’re saying and I don’t doubt there are people who need to find a better balance. But I know a great many people who know full well that these are all just additional ways to communicate and are using them to do exactly that.

  2. Steve,
    I knew that many of the readers would be considered ‘the choir’ (as in ‘preaching to the choir’). I think those of us who have experience with these mediums will have to be prepared for the onslaught of those who are new and are what I term, users.
    These people will blatantly market and not communicate. Honestly, I see a lot of this already with Twitter spam showing up more than I would like.
    So yes, I know I am not hitting anything new here. After all, there is nothing new under the sun ;-). I am, however, going to keep bringing this up so we do not lose sight of the importance of communicating and not just making more noise in an already noisy world.
    Thanks for your comments!



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