Communication in 2021

I hesitate to appear to come across as a professional moaner, but there are certain things which rile me more than others. One of those is the inability of far too many people to communicate effectively, or correctly. Everyone is quick to blame technology and the constant use of mobile phones and i-pads as being the cause, but I tend to disagree. I believe that part of the problem is the current obsession with oneself, one’s rights and one’s feelings of self-importance, with little regard for other people. A saying which has left a lingering impression on me is, “You will be remembered not so much for what you did, but how you made people feel.” Very profound words if you take the time to consider just what they mean.

Many of us across all age groups are faced with too much to do in the course of the day, and not enough hours to get it all done. Therefore, making the effort to get in touch with friends, family or even acquaintances, just to find out how they are coping in these troubling times, should be seen as a privilege by the recipient of the contact. In many cases this is not so. Nothing is more uplifting than someone sounding genuinely pleased at hearing your voice on the other end of the line, or having enjoyed reading your written message, either via WhatsApp or e-mail.

It is very deflating to find that, no matter how you try, certain people just seem to be either too involved in their day-to-day activities, or just not interested in hearing from you to respond. It takes a very thick skin not to feel disappointed and often dejected. Surely, it’s only common courtesy to acknowledge that someone has bothered to think of you and to try to get in touch? In days gone by, when it was very much more challenging to be able to keep in touch with one another, people did   recognize the importance of having good manners. That does not seem to be the case in the world in which we now find ourselves. Hence, it can be a pleasant surprise when you get a truly happy response from the other person. It is enough to give you a certain amount of motivation to carry on making contact with people even if your response rate is not as high as you would have liked.

Another gripe (excuse the moan) is when, through your communication channel, you have enquired about certain aspects of the other person’s life or situation, or even something connected to a shared past incident or occasion, and their response totally omits any reference to the subject you mentioned. It seems that they did not even take the time to actually read what you had written. This kind of communication can be very frustrating and leave you feeling irritated and dissatisfied with the outcome of your endeavours. Nothing makes life more meaningful and pleasant for many of us than being able to communicate with other people, and it is sad that it seems to be the older generation who still bother to make the effort. Not all older people are sitting around waiting to die and having hours of time on their hands. These days many find that they are busier than ever before, and retirement is not on their agenda. However, they are often still the ones who make the effort for meaningful communication.

Another adage which can refer to the above is, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person”. Where computer games, mobile phone usage and hobbies take up a large portion of a person’s day, apart from studies or work, then it is probably somewhat unrealistic to expect any time to be given up for reading your correspondence, or to call you back after you left a voice message. Strange as it may seem, it is very often the busiest members of your so-called “circle of influence” who give you the satisfaction and pleasure of the kind of response for which you were hoping.

My wish is that, despite the world moving at a breakneck pace where technology is concerned, we begin to see more people keeping in touch meaningfully with one another. Should this not happen, then feelings of abandonment, loneliness and worthlessness are likely to manifest themselves in more and more cases of depression and even self-harm, which could be avoided or minimised just by communicating how much you care for the other person’s well-being.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion
that it has taken place.” –
George Bernard Shaw

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