Communication: The Lost Art You Should Be Learning

I often consider, with disdain, the entire process of making a New Year’s resolution; they’re more often than not, done in vain, for show, to be worn as a medal of modesty.

“I really need to lose ten pounds this year,” when we all know that no, you do not… you just want to hear the affirmation every time you volunteer your resolution. It is this affirmation we crave, this instant gratification that we seek in our holistic artificiality of actions, that made me reflect upon resolutions for this upcoming new year: Where, in my life, do I act like a truly phony jackass and how can I change that?

Ironically enough, the answer to this question is rather monumental, and pretty relevant, if you ask me (or any parent, to be frank).

Let’s flash back for a second: the year is 2007. There are no “smart phones,” only flip phones, Chocolates, Razrs, and Sidekicks if you’re posh. Internet connection was a pipe dream for a cell phone, for if you accidentally clicked that right arrow and started connecting, you were royally screwed. These were the days when you’d have to frantically text (or call) your data plan to see if you went over your month’s texting balance, so as to not get grounded (the horror!). Though we endured these “cellular dark ages,” I would, without a doubt, give up my smart phone days for those of limited texts and T9 because, upon further recollection, we actually earned our conversations back then.

Now, though I am wiser (perhaps) and am more equipped to have a better, non-junior high conversation, I would attest that I waste my words and my meaning because I, like my generation, am complacent with the excess provided by boundless communication.

Oftentimes I find myself staring at my phone, scrolling like a zombie attached to a dead limb, feeling impulses to text meaningless words or emojis to meaningful people just because I can. These are the times where I long for a more refined form of communication: letter writing, AIM, or T9, something I can distance myself from, where I am not urgently required to respond. The problem with our smartphone culture is that, unfortunately, we are expected to respond, as we are responsible adults, so we cannot just toss the iPhones into the river in favor of Nokias. I attest we, instead, attempt to push ourselves toward communicating with those we love or care for on a more authentic level.

A huge problem currently plaguing millennials is that of restlessness, spurred from a need for instant gratification. Surely, if we expect somebody to be texting us 24/7, and vice versa, we are going to get bored; what could possibly be said that is so interesting or groundbreaking within that long exchange? Nobody is perfect, nor infallible, and I believe that even William Shakespeare would struggle in this smartphone-overstimulated domain.

Perhaps this expectation that we hold for one another engenders the stigma of “hook up culture,” as we know it: because we expect our perfect person to be texting us all day every day, as a Nicholas Sparks character would do (vom). They should be able to keep us enthralled, however, they are human and cannot be expected to communicate under such pressure through such a domain appropriately; this leads to the inevitable break up, because, let’s face it, you’re just too boring, when in reality, nobody can or will live up to that romanticized expectation, as it was set in a pre-texting era.

That might be far-fetched, but I do believe I have a solution that will make communication more authentic, healthy, and redeeming for those who matter.

Again, I am not saying we should abandon our iPhones; instead, I think we should use them to enhance our communication, or set some parameters for use. First and foremost, I think we should consider enforcing our own texting limits on ourselves: it is unhealthy and unrealistic to expect any conducive conversation to occur 24/7 with a person, even someone you love. Any greater expectation would be far-fetched and detrimental to your relationship. You are not dating God; if you want God, get on your knees and pray.

Now that we’ve established this fine line of a texting limit, it is critical to consider how to communicate like real humans. In the spirit of the Bard, I find it best to wax poetic. We need to be mindful of what we want to communicate before we say it (or type it)… we must think before we speak. I have developed this super zen approach of enhancing communication while also honing writing craft and exploration and expression of feelings: conversation via haiku.

For those of you who are not writing addicts like myself, haiku are 3-line Japanese poems that follow the following syllabic form: 5-7-5. Haiku are intended to convey vivid images of surroundings, nature, or feelings, and I like to manipulate the form to communicate what I see, feel, or memories I have of times in conversation with my loved ones. This allows me to capture the essence of my love for a person, and affix meaning to the words I type. I have to choose my words wisely, and therefore am more in touch with myself and the people I converse with in this way.

Since communicating via haiku, I’ve noticed that there has been more depth in my conversations. They aren’t all just “lol” and “haha” filler fluff that you say to someone when you feel like you have to text them back. Furthermore, I’ve grown much closer to the people I’ve been speaking to, as we both make concerted efforts, bonded together in looking within ourselves to express the essence of our feelings, to find the right words to convey who we are and where we stand in relation to the rest of the world. No emoji could do this writing justice.

I no longer feel the anxiety when I don’t get a text back, but rather I feel the excitement bubbling, waiting for what inspiration might await me to kindle my own. Such “texting” feels much more mutually advantageous and inspirational on a multitude of levels, building relationships, trust, and also creativity beyond just the superficial social constraints of such status. I believe that in communicating via haiku, and limiting our texting obsession (or addiction) as a whole, we will become more meaningful and authentic individuals. I know that my small steps have already made me less of a phony jackass, and I hope that my strides will continue to make me more socially aware in 2017.

Write on, humans.

[Featured Image: iStockphoto]