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The Lost Art of Real Communication

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Today as a society we are more alone, more fractured and more introverted than ever. Now
I’m sure most of you have just laughed off the suggestion that you could in fact be an
introvert, but before you throw the concept out the window lets dissect it further. Being an
introvert means you are shy and or reserved, now you may believe that putting yourself on
Tinder means you are far from being a shy or reserved person, but let me ask you how good
are you and/or how confident are you to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger face
to face? If you need to use a technological aid to help you break the ice, then I would highly
suggest that you are in fact exhibiting classic characteristics of a shy or reserved person.

How about withdrawn? Once again you probably think that we are more connected as a
society then we have ever been. That technology has brought us together, that it has made us
more sociable? It’s called ‘Social Media” after all. But are we really more sociable? We are
replacing face to face conversations with messenger chats and even when we do get together
with our friends and families, do you truly communicate or do you find yourself constantly
looking down at your phone. We are withdrawn from the real world and sucked into a fake
Social Media based world.

The overwhelming evidence is that as a society we have lost the art of real communication. We
have gone from having deep and meaningful conversations with people face to face to now
chatting via text messages on our favourite chat program such as Facebook Messenger,
WhatsApp or Snapchat. We express our feelings on world events in just 140 characters via
tweets. We have abbreviated so many words and sentences to chat quicker, by the way (BTW)
this is quite difficult for the older generation who sit there and scratch their heads at some of
the SMS code, who would have guessed that IDK means I don’t know.

The biggest thing we have lost is the ability to listen. We are all different and unique
individuals and as such we all have different opinions and values. In the past we
communicated face to face, we used body language to get a better understanding of where the
other person was coming from. We respected their right to have a different opinion and we
learned from them. Sometimes we even changed our views when we discussed it, but most of
all we respected others and compromised when needed. Now we are keyboard warriors, we
refuse to accept any other opinions and we battle with each other online. We can never
compromise or understand the other person because the true message we want to convey is
lost in a cloud of abbreviations, emoticons and misunderstandings. Real communication
involves more than just words, it involves body language, tone of voice and real interaction,
things that are sadly lacking in modern day society.

But if we dig deeper into what it means to be an introvert, it also means to be a person
characterised by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings. How often when
you are in a face to face conversation now do you really listen? I mean actively take in
everything the other person is saying, not simply waiting to argue your case and thinking
about what you are going to say or thinking about something completely different, like what
you will be cooking for dinner for example. We have become such a self-obsessed society that
we simply cannot communicate effectively anymore.

In the below TED speech, Celeste Headlee a writer and radio host discusses how to have better
conversations and how to really communicate, she touches on many of the things I have said
above and one quote from her speech really sums up where we are at as a society at the
moment.

“So this world that we live in, this world in which every conversation has the potential to
devolve into an argument, where our politicians can’t speak to one another and where even the
most trivial of issues have someone fighting both passionately for it and against it, it’s not
normal. Pew Research did a study of 10,000 American adults, and they found that at this
moment, we are more polarized, we are more divided, than we ever have been in history.
We’re less likely to compromise, which means we’re not listening to each other. And we make
decisions about where to live, who to marry and even who our friends are going to be, based
on what we already believe. Again, that means we’re not listening to each other. A
conversation requires a balance between talking and listening, and somewhere along the way,
we lost that balance.” – Celeste Headlee

I encourage you all to watch the video, put down the phone and start to really listen to people
and connect on a human level.

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