The End of Communication

July 22, 2009

People today like to talk, stay in touch, touch base, have face time, drop a line, hit up, holla back, or whatever stupid thing kids like to call it…a lot.

Since the telegraph, we got telephones, the radio, the television, emails, instant messenger, pagers, cell phones, blogs, Blackberries, Facebook, and Twitter, all allowing us to talk more quickly and frequently than ever.

And yet, I can’t help thinking that for all the ways we can communicate, very few people are able to communicate. As someone who tries to cultivate conversation skills, I notice that it’s a lost art.

And teenagers who are growing up with IMing from the convenience of their phones? I lose all hope seeing a bunch of typeractive textrovert teeny boppers having textual intercourse. Yes, those are all real terms in the urban dictionary. NFSP! LOL!

I broke up with two girlfriends partly over our instant messenger conversations (on our primitive computers.) IM was supposed to save our long distance relationships! We could talk all night while studying and not rack up huge phone bills! But I discovered that it really is tone and body language that makes up most of communication. Let’s just say our feelings were shared through many vulgar emoticons. :0 >:[ :/ :'(

Though I’m resolved to keep it out of this blog, I love politics. I like to follow the news, debate it with friends. I can get pretty passionate. Yet for all my interest in politics, I find most politicians to be extremely boring…and that’s at their best.

It used to be when someone wanted to get elected, he’d go on a whistle stop train tour, giving impassioned speeches. Winston Churchill practically won the British half of WWII with pithy speeches! These days, politicians are so careful about their words, so worried about their self image that they never get excited about anything! They never say anything worth getting excited about! The last great Presidential quote I can think of off the top of my head is, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Our standards for what passes for good communication have lowered from “Ask not what your country can do for you…” to, “Malaise…”

And I’m tired of hearing official ‘statements’ from ‘spokesmen’ when anything happens. Doesn’t matter if someone dies or some tragedy happens or something great happens, every statement is the same generic buzzwords. Someone dies and every last public figure issues a statement saying, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family…blah, blah, blah.” Well I can really tell you care based on that Hallmark quality statement your intern wrote for your press secretary to say. The only reason ‘statements’ are made is to make sure everyone knows they care, All they care about is that we care that they care. Well we don’t care.

And people say they don’t go to church because the sermons are boring.

Well many of them probably are. And it shouldn’t be that way. Maybe it’s just one more way that the culture is shaping the church. Some pastors settle for being poor communicators. A lot of pastors who don’t want to be boring seem to feel like they’re trapped by only having one boring book to use, so they have to go exploring other topics. Or they feel the gospel is too offensive to a seeker’s delicate ears, so he softens it with vagaries and platitudes like a politician trying to please gullible voters.

Many people don’t pay attention to current events or political goings-on because the people are boring, and their words are vague, generic, or outright lies. I’m no great preacher. No one records me to listen to dozens of times. No one will quote me when I’m dead. But if I can just speak clearly about what I believe and why I believe it, and sound like I believe what I say, I’m doing better than most politicians.

If you aren’t a pastor, you can help your pastor. If he gives an impassioned sermon, be sure to encourage him afterward. Pastors don’t always get a lot of personal encouragement. And not every pastor is equally gifted or funny or handsome, so go easy on him. You don’t have to switch churches just because your pastor’s sermons don’t always ‘feed’ you. Coming from most people, that line is baloney too.

And everyone can help by being able to clealy articulate your own beliefs. Don’t put it on your pastor to articulate to your children or your friends what your faith is. The church needs to be the best communicators in the world, not the best side shows or comedians, and certainly not the best politicians.

Most people at a funeral would rather be in the casket then giving the eulogy. What about you? Do you feel like you could communicate in most contexts if the need arose?

One response to The End of Communication

  1. My Media Ethics professor (yes…the media might not practice ethics but they try to teach it in college)gave some pulpit-pounding, fire-and-brimstone speeches.

    I have ideas for Eulogies for my parents and grandmother. I don't know if that's brave or morbid or both.