Friday, March 25, 2011

Communication - Not to be Confused With Communicable, of Course

Yes, you guessed it. I am digressing from my normal 'food obsessed' posts and writing about something that the entire human race needs to improve on: communication.

Oooohhh, that little five syllable word that not only has the power to divide nations, split families, and end friendships but to also bring peace in wartime, heal a marriage and begin friendships.

Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines Communication as: "The act of imparting, conferring, or delivering, from one to another; as the communication of knowledge, opinions or facts; Connecting passage; means of passing from place to place; as a strait or channel between seas or lakes, a road between cities or countries, a gallery between apartments in a house, an avenue between streets; correspondence; good understanding between men."

I did the unbelievable on Sunday. I deleted my Facebook account. I know, I know! "Heresy!", some cry. "Are you insane?!?", others shout. Maybe I am. But that's beside the point.

One of the main reasons I deleted Facebook is simply this: meaningful communication was lacking in my relationships. See, I found that if I made a cute comment on someone's status that somehow, we were 'in touch'. Now, don't get me wrong. It was a fabulous way to keep up with long distance friends and family. But to be truthful, I knew more about those people because of Facebook than if they were living down the street or in the same town. I began to suspect that maybe I knew too much. And our 'relationship' consisted of one-liner comments and practically nothing deeper than that. To be truthful, I almost felt like a creeper who was looking into their windows at night.

And then there were the 'Famous Facebook Disagreement Posts'. That's when it went beyond one-liners. In fact, so much so, that we were typing things to one another that we wouldn't dare say to each other in person, let alone with a crowd gathered around. How embarrassing.

So this post, my friends, is to get you thinking about how you communicate with your friends and loved ones. I am not telling anyone to delete their Facebook. If you have one, that's no business of mine. But ask yourself this: Do you rely more on social media to communicate than other methods? By 'other methods' I mean letters, the telephone, meeting and conversing, even email. What is your standard method? If you answered 'none of the above' and you rely solely on social networking, perhaps it's time to reevaluate your methods of communication.

When I was in high school, my now husband and then boyfriend and I wrote letters to each other. Every single day. Of course, that was back when a postage stamp was twenty cents! But he lived in Idaho and I lived in Oregon. There were two choices: long distance telephone (EXPENSIVE!) or writing letters. For two kids living on our paychecks from the Target Snack Bar and Pizza Hut, the choice wasn't hard. It took maybe only fifteen minutes a night to write a letter, place it in an envelope, address and stamp it and place it in the mail box. And when I received his letters, it was like receiving a little piece of  'him'.

But my absolute favorite part of the letters is this: we still have them. Now, unless you print out everything your sweetheart tweets, comments or emails you, those sentiments will be gone forever. But we have a treasure in those letters - the handwriting, the goofy things we wrote on the envelopes...they are priceless.

I must say, I'm glad I had my experience with Facebook. It opened my eyes to how far to the opposite side of  'traditional communication' that society is swinging. And it brought out the glaring errors I have in my own life when it comes to staying in touch with my loved ones.

But I leave you with this challenge:

When was the last time you actually communicated with someone outside of your home? By that, I mean, when did you last write a letter? Send a card of encouragement? Pick up the phone (NOT texting!) just to see how someone was doing? If it's been a while, why not shock someone this weekend? Pick up a ninety-nine cent card at the store and handwrite that you are thinking of them. You may just send someone into shock! Incorporate meaningful conversation into your life. Not everyone has to eliminate their other methods. I still email and text. And I obviously still have a blog. But I want to encourage you to be real again. Take a friend out for coffee. Call your mom or dad - yes, on the phone! Write a love letter to your spouse. Take your kids out for ice cream and talk.

Communication = Connection

Happy Conversing!


Maria said...

Alas, I kind of liked having you as a creeper in my life. Of course I make a point never to say anything online that I would not say to someone's face and I missed all the ranting posts! I am famous for the I will like what you post and not say a thing! Yes sometimes I miss the connection, but honestly I am soo crazily busy with the monster kiddos and everyone lives sooo far away so by the time we play phone tag for 3 weeks and finally reach eachother it is then an awkward conversation! Drives me crazy at times!

Linda Talluto said...

I, too, have every letter Sam and I wrote to each other every day of our engagement. He was in San Diego in the Marine Band, and I was in Bremerton, WA going to college. Those letters are a constant reminder of the love we share and the care with which we must treat our relationship these 50 years later.
I have reconnected with old college friends through Facebook, but am now trying to phone and email more, as we continue to discover the reasons we became friends oh, so long ago.