The Lost Art of Communication

Growing up our kitchen phone hung on the wall and had a long cord. If I just had a dollar every time I wrapped myself up in the cord or put the spirals around my finger. Calling friends and making plans was a way of life. The anticipation added something to getting up each day and was an education in how to deal with disappointment when things fell through.

endangered conversationsMy Dad taught me to give a firm handshake and look the person square in eyes when shaking and conversing. These days talking to each other is becoming endangered. A decade ago a neurologist/researcher/inventor asked me would I rather have an arm that functioned or spontaneous speech, without a doubt I answered speech. Though I was a very active outdoorsman losing my ability to talk was the most challenging aspect of ALS and an obstacle I dealt with poorly during the decline. Using an augmentative communication device without inflection or the wrong inflection I am often misunderstood. I see similar problems occurring in electronic communication. Email replaced the written letter, which was a wonderful advancement not depending on the federal government to deliver a response a week or so later. Soon convenience was taken for granted and gave into brevity. When my biological children answered long emails with, “k” I knew many things were in trouble, chiefly our relationship.

Because of John Anschutz at the Shepherd Center I had the capability of sending text messages before that became common place. Texting is an ideal means of communication for me, because of my far from spontaneous phone conversations and it is a quick way for me to get help in an emergency creating independence for me also makes my care less burdensome. When my bio children got their first cell phones it increased our communication for awhile, but soon I found myself saying, “What the hell?”  and trying to decipher their encrypted abbreviated messages. I could understand kids not wanting to waste time talking to parents, but when I saw them communicating with their friends this way it concerned me deeply. I rarely see children talking on their phones just spraining their thumbs texting. We still have a land line and it rings and rings with a house full of children, because they hate talking on the phone and with caller identification they choose who they will talk to if the phone is answered. Phone etiquette, what is that? I know our home is not an isolated case.

We recently discovered that a young boy around our youngest age lives near by us. Carey took Rickie over to make introductions. An older high school age young man answered the door. After a period of severe awkwardness and no eye contact the young man called his brother down. Again awkward, Carey managed to spark a friendship. The father came to the door and was thrilled with the activity at his stoop adding his youngest just sits in his room and plays video games. While I’m on my soapbox, video games are the most disabling invention ever to children’s development. Video games are addictive and crush healthy imagination growth. I am trying to limit Rickie’s time in a trance gaming. He is almost paralyzed in trying to find another form of entertainment. Reading about gaming addictions I learned parents need to replace the video games with other time consumers. Telling a child how to play is totally foreign to me. I could not wait until sunrise during the summer to play all day until I had what my mother called granny beads around my neck. I suppose we can thank technology for this cocooning of the youth in their rooms.

I do not have the answers and welcome yours, but I know there will be a price to pay later down the road for this void in communication and socialization development. Sorry to be so negative, but I cannot see a positive outcome.

Have a great day! dj

Posted in Blog
4 comments on “The Lost Art of Communication
  1. Michael Teasley says:

    David,

    I agree with you. I have recently begun writing letters by hand again, as I used to before I had purchased a computer. My sister was thrilled to receive a handwritten letter. I also insisted that my son (8) write thank-you letters to family and friends who donated to a fundraiser for his school. I misplaced the unmailed thank you’s and only recently mailed them, with an apology for the delay written by me. I am trying to replace the e-mail with the old-fashioned letter for some friends and family who can read my chicken scratch with little or no difficulty. I know I still enjoy receiving the old-fashioned letter, despite the delay of a week before receipt as you mentioned.
    I also agree with you regarding texting/calling. Personally, I’d rather hear someone’s voice and laughter than reading lol, etc. Joel is only 8, so he enjoys making or receiving phone calls to/from his friends and cousin. He will not own a cell phone until middle school, if then. Erin, my teenager, texts faster than she can talk. Her I-phone may as well be surgically attached.
    The video game problem. I agree with you wholeheartedly. My wife and I only allow the Wii in the den, where the family watches tv, so Wii time is limited. Fortunately, Joel does like the outdoors. We play catch, croquet, etc. But he’s more the indoor type, preferring to read, draw, or write. He also is a big fan of the public library. If I can only keep his interest in things other than gadgets, he’ll be fine. I don’t mind him playing some games, as I know he gravitates toward the educational games involving math. Rearing children is an ongoing work in progress, and what works for one may not work for another. My wife and I consider ourselves lucky.

    • David Jayne says:

      Pearle, that is excellent! I hope this too is a pendulum swing and we get back to communicating meaningfully.

  2. Kelley (with 2 E's) says:

    David, this post should be in all of the local papers. Truly amazing writing and facts.I don’t think people can begin to understand how it is not to be able to express ourselves using the voice we were born with.Its a blessing to have the ability to speak but we take advantage of that daily by not using it and sending text instead.We have became a non-personal world and it is concerning. I agree with you on the gaming craze as well. Time is such a valuable thing and it slips by so quickly. I would much rather my kids to make lasting memories of an active outside childhood as I did, than playing games that will never amount to any memories. We have grown to the “acceptance” stage and the “That’s just how it is now days”. I hope everyone that reads this post really looks and thinks of things we have and take advantage of daily. Its too late when they are taken away and the time is gone. I think I’ll hide the cell phones and unplug the games today. We need to make good memories and better communication with each other. Thanks so much, this gave me a new and better outlook!!!

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