Freeman Cebu Business

Are we communicating?  

BUSINESS AFTER BUSINESS - Romelinda Garces - The Freeman

With all the access to information there seems to be no excuse for the lack of communication. I say seems because apparently, communication is still hard to accomplish.  People continue not to understand each other. They speak but seldom listen. They hear yet remain unable to understand.

Communication mainly deals with an exchange. It banks greatly on comprehension. It is not enough to put out a word, it is also important to note how it is received. 

In my phone I have so many apps that make the world accessible to me with just one click. And yet I do not make use of all of them. In fact, I am pretty selective when it comes to who I am communicating with, because that is what I want to do, communicate.

Of course I get the jibe on being archaic especially from my nephews and nieces who seem to be born with a cellphone in their hand. Or some of my friends who even in their sleep mimic the touch of the screen as they turn on their side of the bed.

My students are my greatest source of technology. And I am grateful for their patience with my Jurassic tech as they teach me to explore helpful apps in class. Now who’s the teacher?  But I love the exchange, I enjoy the values that I generate from them when we discuss the difference between platforms, and the lingo that goes with the comm. If you do not keep up, you get lost in their jargon!. Most of all, I have fun playing dumb because I am able to evoke their patience. At certain times, I really am dense when they flood me with all the verbiage that leaves me agog!

What do I learn? That the young are not just all cellphones and wifi connections. They value actual connectivity, being able to relate, striving to suppress the speed of the “click” or “scan” with true-to-life searches. Introspection that cannot be derived from distant conversations with an unknown friend. They are adventurous and daring but calculate their safety by verifying the unknown with their virtual navigations. They enjoy talking and seek depth in conversations, but immediately give up when they find no substance in the discussion. They are motivated by attention, just like any of us.  

We all love to communicate, even those who act like introverts actually have many thoughts they jot on their blogs or document in vlogs. They want to be reached, so they stretch out of their avenues to open the lines where people of common interests can react and relate.

Real communication today is hard to derive. With the many distractions that demand our attention, we have to be intentional to meet. Truly meet.  Focus is rare. A simple bleep, makes us drift fast and easy and we itch to respond to the phone even while we are in front of someone who may still think we are in sync when we are actually tethering at the edge of our attention, with our eyes skirting to that unread message that beckons on our phone.

A dear friend would always grumble when we talk because as we do, some other person catches my attention and my main conversation is interrupted by my response to another. He would then keep quiet and after a while ask me “who am I talking with now? Are you still there?” I know he is beyond insult because it happens so often, he has somehow understood that that is the way I have become. But in real serious conversations, we have to keep the center otherwise we lose the people who matter.

In a table, a family was eating together, following their tradition of family Sundays. As they did, the husband was on the phone, the wife was playing a game, the son was busy with facebook, the elder daughter was busy scanning through Shopee, and the youngest child, who was not allowed to use a phone, was busy playing with the toy that came with the happy meal and yaya, who was with the family was the only one who kept attention on the child, as she carefully wiped his mouth with his bib and played with him.

In the whole ten minutes I sat diagonally across their table, there was no conversation that occurred among them except, dad: “how can that be?”; mom: “I think I’ll get a pink chair for Austin”; son: “wow he’s got a new bike! Awesome!”; sister: “I think red would suit me. Darn! Ella has one like it ugh!”, child: “some more fries yaya, please”; and yaya: okay, open your mouth, let yaya do it, your hands are dirty.”

The characters are not fictitious, and the conversation is based on the observed exchange.  The family is real. And I am the eavesdropper, because at that time, I left my phone.

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