Tag Archives: communication

Subtext

 

Recently I was watching an old police drama. One character, that was being interviewed, was obfuscating and it dawned on me that it was all about the subtext. Of course, my little brain went wooooh!  My first thought was that kids today don’t understand subtext and then I realized:  that is how our youth speak to each other.  I am also not entirely sure they understand the art of communication. They can actually have complete conversations in 280 characters!  It used to be 140! And yet the average ‘text’ is usually only about 33 characters.  I can’t say ‘hello’ properly in less than 50.  And that is characters not words. When I was a youth, a text was a book, a sub was either a sandwich or a boat and characters were on the screen. Well, not really but those are the first things I think of.

Our language has evolved as our children have evolved. Today’s kids are in many ways much smarter than we ever were. But they are also dumber. Sorry that’s not fair.  But think about it:  how many have lost the ability to read cursive or tell time on an analog clock?  Good manners are no longer common place, good sense is lacking and good courtesy . . .

A proper conversation was fluid and accentuated with gestures and facial reactions, whole body movements. Dialogues today are via texts.  Heads down, eyes focused on a 4 x 6” screen.  And this is while they are sitting next to each other!  There is no sharing of emotions or reactions.  How can you experience the flavour, the intensity of a language if you are alone or unaware?  People who are blind or hearing-impaired use touch or movement to round out their talks.

Today’s conversationalists speak emoji. Teeny, tiny little figures that denote emotion. I think. I don’t really speak emoji. I know if I see a little yellow face with a smile that’s a good thing.  I have seen people use an entire string of these emoji creatures and they’re actually speaking a sentence. Impressive. But like so many languages, I can only speak a few words. But I can fake it really well!

I am afraid to look too far into the future. Will conversations become soundbites and emojis? Or will we regress to a time when people sat over a cup of tea and had long conversations with gestures and substance. I don’t want to spend an hour over lunch discussing some actor’s transcendental metamorphosis while he was grooming his dog. I like a real conversation about life, the world, the future . . .

For at least a little while we are going to have to be inventive in how we have our chats. But I truly hope we do not retreat to the little glass screen but we keep a dialogue going face-to-face even if it is at a distance. That to me is a conversation.

 

His House

 

When I was a child

I dutifully prayed,

And went to church

Every week.

I learned about God

His son and the Ghost

And the way I needed

To live.

In time I learned more

And questioned the past.

My relationship grew

With God.

Wherever we are

There is never just one

We are His Church

I have learned.

We all stand together,

One voice raised to the sky

Whether inside or out

He is there.

In my heart He resides

And teaches me still.

His community of love

Will live on.

Context

 

As many of you know I love to listen in on other peoples’ conversations.  No, I don’t mean that I stalk individuals and listen illegally into their discussions. But I have been known to trail after an interesting couple simply to hear the rest of what they are saying. But allow me to give it some context. If you hear someone speaking about murdering another, you really want to know more.

We live in a society where everyone seems to have a mobile phone connected to their ear lobe. I cannot count the number of times I have been forced to speak up before a person runs into me simply because they’re paying attention to their phone and not what was in front of them. Ah, the joys of technology!

We can’t know exactly what someone else is talking about on the phone or in a text. We don’t know what that individual is dealing with. Is the text to a girlfriend/boyfriend explaining that they are pregnant, accepted into that prestigious law firm or asking for them to bring home milk?

We live in a society of tidbits. We hear snippets of a conversation walking down the street, often more than one. We are jostled by someone trying to get into the store and for a micro second we share a look. What is that person dealing with? Are they happy, sad, frustrated, suicidal, manic, murderous? We don’t know. And yet we often make judgments based on a split-second interaction. Tidbits.

No one seems to know the whole story about anything. The Media included. Politicians tell us what they think we want to hear.  Is there any truth in what they have to say? Possibly. Friends speak from the heart and sometimes tell you what you need to hear. But often they tell you what they believe will make you feel better.  What is the truth? And is the truth something that needs to be relayed all the time? I don’t think so. Let me give you a little context. A friend had convinced me to go to a new hairdresser. She was a Stylist from New York!   She had a very heady reputation and they could fit me in. I think I was supposed to be honored. When I entered her very luxurious salon I was asked if I wanted a Perrier. I did not. She then spent 15 minutes talking to me. She told me she wanted to know what kind of person I was so that she could give me the haircut I needed.  She spent quite a bit of time whipping my hair into… something? After I had forked over the national debt for a small country, I left. I don’t think she was terribly impressed with me. We didn’t speak.

I have never been to New York. I hear is a “happening” city.  Food, Fashion, Finance. The Holy F’s?  Perhaps the haircut I received was considered fashionable in the mecca that is considered Manhattan.  I don’t live in New York. I explained I was quite conservative and liked the simple things. My hair looked like it had been cut by an eight-year-old high on cocaine with dull scissors and a tick.  I wish I was kidding. My sister was getting married in a week. There would be pictures.

I went back to my regular hairdresser and pleaded with him to fix it. It became really short. Oh, and that very fashionable New York hairstylist? She moved on to more appropriate grounds.  Lesson learned. Context.

I Didn’t Break The 50s!

 

Technically, I was child of the 50s.  Well at least for six months. With wild abandon I guzzled homemade milk and had a bevy of staff to cater to my every need. It was paradise.

In reality, I was a child of the 60s. I do recall watching the moon landing on a black-and-white TV. We only had three stations to watch and you had to get up to change the channel. There were no cell phones or colour TVs.  The Internet hadn’t been invented. I was a kid. I went outside and played. I scraped my knees and probably bloodied my nose a few times. We could breathe the air deeply and not worry about coughing up a lung. Most recollections are idyllic.

But the 60s was also a time of war, poverty, assassinations, racism and sickness. The history books remember the bad stuff. People try not to. It was a time of Family and single incomes. Roles were expected for men and women and children. It was only in those progressive families that young girls were allowed to dream without restrictions. I didn’t know there were restrictions. But then I didn’t know what to dream.

Times were different in the past. There was good and bad. But we evolved. That sounds like a step forward but it too comes with both good and bad. We eradicated some diseases and then created new ones. We got smart and creative in how to deal with illnesses, viruses, so they too evolved.  Now we have superbugs and inefficient medicines. Nowadays we love our children to dream without restrictions but then we stress them out with the requirements to succeed. A double-edged sword.

I am in an unrepentant optimist. I believe we will solve the problems we created. Am I naïve? Perhaps. But I look around this world and I see our children recognizing the problems and standing up. They are shaming the past and working hard towards fixing the future. Will they succeed? I hope so. I doubt I’ll be around to see everything fixed. I believe we are moving in the right direction. But this is not something that can only be on the shoulders of the children. We all need to be involved. Even if it’s only in a small way. The very least we can do is support them.

Our world is a paradise. There is incredible beauty here but we must be prepared to look and to see.  We must also be prepared to defend that paradise. We only have one world and we are all in this together. It isn’t about one group, one culture, one faction. It is all of us!

 

Consequences

 

Teen-age Johnny picked a fight.

Little did he know,

The boy that he knocked down?

Would one day run the show!

 

Tiny Sally bit the hand,

That offered her a treat.

Many years then went by,

Revenge is oh so sweet!

 

The actions of today,

Will one day come around.

And be the cause we did not see,

And wished we’d never found!

 

‘Reflect before you do.’

Our motto I should think

Because before you know it

The future is in sync!