People are swamped with information these days. Constant streams of content can lead to feeling alienated and disconnected from the people around us.
The more we communicate, the less we really say. The depth of our conversations is declining and most communication is becoming transactional.
Communication is not a one-way street anymore, but a kind of broadcast that surrounds us on all sides, filling up space with words about nothing in particular.
We have become a race of people who talk to each other without listening; who share everything without knowing anything; who live at cross-purposes in an environment created by ourselves for ourselves; alone together, solitary together, moving ceaselessly yet never really going anywhere.
The more we communicate, the less we really say. There is also a possibility that when we do talk, it’s not worth listening. We’ve become so used to hearing the same thing over and over again that it becomes white noise. The more we communicate, the more diluted the human experience is. This is a problem that has been recognized by writers and scholars for centuries. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King writes:
“The world has shrunk to a village: global village. We’re in touch with everybody all the time. We know everything that’s going on everywhere in the world at any time, and it’s driving us mad.”
The idea that social media is a great platform to communicate with others is false. It is a platform that focuses on quantity over quality. There is a paradoxical relationship between how much we communicate and what is communicated. The more we communicate, the less true or deep our communication becomes. We should be mindful of this paradox when communicating with others, especially those close to us. In his article, Is Social Media Making Us Miserable? Nicholas Carr asks us to question
“Where this will lead? When all we can do is rely on virtual experiences while ignoring what’s happening in front of us.”
This is because we are generally just aiming to make a point or get to the end of the conversation with as few exchanges as possible. The impact of this type of communication can be that we hold back and don’t express ourselves fully. We don’t get to explore our thoughts, emotions, and feelings. This is because we are so busy thinking about what to say next and trying not to offend anyone's sense of self-worth.
The point is not to stop communicating with people altogether but rather recognize that there are different ways to communicate. You can choose to be more selective about who you want to speak with and take time to listen to what each person has to say before answering them back, which will give you a chance for a deeper understanding than if you just give out a quick response.
Listening is the most important skill in any interaction. It’s a skill that we all lose over time. We need to work on our “listening muscles” to become better listeners so that we can listen more effectively. It also enhances our ability to express ourselves clearly.
The next time you’re in a conversation with someone, pay attention to whether or not you’re listening fully and completely. If you notice that you’re not really listening, make an effort to focus on what they are saying and ask questions about it if need be.
It can be difficult to truly listen and pay attention without interrupting. Practice this skill by pausing before you speak and thinking about what the other person has said. This will help you build a better understanding of what they are trying to say, and also help you formulate a response in a more meaningful way.
To listen is so important, that it can make or break a relationship. Listening is not just about passively taking in information either. It’s about hearing what is being said and giving it meaning.
We should make room for meaningful conversations in our everyday experiences. A meaningful conversation is one where two people share ideas, thoughts, feelings, and opinions with each other; it is an exchange of views through discussion on topics that interest both parties.
I propose to you LESS chatter and MORE depth…