The Communication Dissonance

A guest article by a fellow aamjunta

Dear Friends,

Can we talk to a tree or speak to a mountain? Or,  to the lake or meadow for that matter?

How many of us would answer a yes to this?

Possibly none of us barring those few with firm believe in mysticism and it’s unconventionally respectable powers of extracting information from the lifeless and non-speakers. Again this will be tacit and conditional as the occurrence of such an event defies conventional wisdom that dangerously restricts our limitations.  Those of us who believe in it, they just believe it. No knowing is implied from this belief. For the rest of us, the answer would be a resounding ‘NO’.

It would be premature to get into a conclusion now. Let us probe into a similar question. Can we talk to a fellow human being, our own species? We are doing that every moment, for generations, from unrecorded ancestry and till imaginable posterity. The chorus will agree on that. Your affirmation certainly renders the initial question invalid – we can never talk to a tree or a mountain. No belief works here, as we are convinced that it’s impossible and this is the collective conclusion from continuous conventional wisdom.  Human beings do have a mind; Words, sounds, gestures are so relevant to them to exercise the power of communication. It may sound irrational, but the question is – how often are we able to do that?  Well, we at time in our tortuous journey of self discovery stumble upon the most unconventional truth that it is not always possible to communicate with a fellow human being. We can effortlessly talk to them, but we may not communicate as communication not only does require mind, attention, understanding, language, sounds, gestures and all the rest of it, but also it does require the  conscious presence of the ‘other’.

Communication, as a prerogative, demands the ‘other’ to be present there consciously. Talking is never a problem, but communication is. Only those of us with a required quality of intelligence, at least, recognize this. Akin to that, we can talk to a tree or a mountain. Yes, we can – in fact; we can do so for months and years together, but cannot certainly communicate with those. So talking is possible, and it never has a technical problem. We can talk to anything or anybody in the world as it requires only the ‘one’, not the ‘other’. When it comes to communication, it becomes a problem, a real problem. We share or pass on information, ideas, conclusions, ideologies, theories and so on to others. But we hardly do communicate; to put it more aptly, we hardly require it. In a world that recognizes professionalism, competition, growth and output, what our daily lives require are offices, clubs, canteens, pubs, gyms, playgrounds, malls and all the rest of it those don’t require communication to happen always. What we consider as communication, in fact, doesn’t require the presence of ‘other’.

More so, such condition is absolutely fine at the places when we dwell outside, but to dwell inside communication becomes highly imperative. Because the contents those we find inside are not words or information but the responses, echoes, reactions and reflections that control, guide, motivate us. Communication is not a call to defy our over worked routine, not a call to apply breaks to our fast paced rat raced life, neither a call for revolution or a desire to break relation. It is indispensable though not for pace but for peace, not just for entertainment but for celebration, not for growth but towards the fulfilment of life.

Thankfully, the enormous progress of technology has gifted us with loads of devices of communication but the generation is troubled and confused, as ever, with the painful attempts to flee from the self-erected bar of confinement, constricted conscience and suffocation. How many of us have experienced this horrible trap of self made restrictions? How many of us have come out unscathed and how many of are still healing the wound? What we do –we adhere to all sorts of vicarious means those are gracefully available around us.  But, the ephemeral happiness is no real joy. It is not natural, it is so crudely manufactured.

Do we communicate? How often we are there?

No. We just speak out some words, we just sound. We can communicate even while blasting at someone or hating someone, which also we don’t do most of the times. The moment of anger can be a moment of glory if proper communication can find a place in our expression – the least it can make us aware of the reasons of anger and the persons who receive it; are they the right ones?

Does communication reveal anything regarding the loneliness of a human, even at this state of progress in the technological comfort and privileges? Shockingly the green city of Bangalore, with all its beauty and opportunities, witnesses at least two suicides on daily basis. What propels those tears and agony of solitude and suffocation? Where are those cool dudes and pals whose shoulders are much in need in the moment? To be rested and relieved upon? The shoulder, not the chest on which pseudo emotional intimacies were converted into real eviction of physical desires and then the relation being thrown into the garbage of passing moments to be forgotten and to move on to the next event?

Friends, the essence of human life lies in its expansion towards greater causes and for bigger mass. That is only possible through harmony, mutual respect and acceptance. Let me reiterate, communication holds the key to it.

I hope you are right there. 🙂

Regards,

Chinmaya Nayak

Being Social or active in Social Media…..

Are you there in FB?

Ya I am there, but not active 😦 ..

Oh! you are missing the big picture there, come over, will talk….

and she cut the phone…

Disgusting…. was the obvious reaction from this side…

This was the conversation between two ladies in their 40s which I over-heard last week while I was in a shopping complex in Bangalore.

This incident reminded me of a similar story that happened with me some years back. At that time it was Orkut, and now it is FB or Facebook. The bottom line of story is the same, only the characters and the modalities are different. I am sure many of my readers and fellow aamjuntas must have faced something similar or the other.

Now a days most of us are active in social media sites like Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Youtube and so many. Adding new albums, searching old and new friends, updating status, sending messages, sharing links, and chatting over Facebook is a common practice.

With affordable Internet over mobile phones and broadband connections, nearly 80-90% users visit the social media sites in general. It is observed that the average time we spend on the Internet in general, and social media in particular is much more than the time we spend with our family and some time even more than we work !!

Moreover, most of the time we are busy in investigating or searching about others’ activity and reactions to some comment, photo update, status update, etc.,  than really bothering about our own work. Interestingly, we hardly find time or zeal to meet a friend, to do our daily exercise and to even sleep…. Sometimes it makes us so busy that mothers forget feeding their babies, students lack in time to study, office-goers forget to respond to a job schedule and some even ended up with depression and hyper-tension.

Quite surprisingly, there is also a rise in thefts, murders, rapes, harassments, etc., in cities where actual social life is almost negligible due to various factors. We put all our informations including email-ids, photos, telephone numbers, address, and present whereabouts for our friends… and that also becomes available for the anti-social elements ! This definitely compromises our security and well-being resulting in murders, thefts, rapes, blackmailing, harassments and so on…. horrific regular news headings in national dailies and in TV.

By saying all these things, I am not asking the aamjunta to stop browsing or stop visiting social media sites. It is necessary to be social and one cannot discount the importance of social media in this age. However, we need to understand the difference between being Social and active in Social Media.

Definitely the social media has some positive and negative aspects, and as the so called sab-janta users, we should evaluate critically about this, such that we can make some thing positive out of it.

Coming to a general view of social media – it has the characteristics to potentially give “voice to all”, immediate outreach, literally “24X7 – Engagement” and offers a unique opportunity of connection among the users. It has the potential to reach new and old friends across the world and to make the world smaller and smaller; a feel-good factor for the social animal – to talk/chat, to share, to learn and to showcase. 🙂 …

Coming out from the individualistic mode, social media has the potential to provide an opportunity for the Government agencies to engage with all their stakeholders including the citizens in real time and to make policies citizen-centric. Like Government agencies, Private enterprise houses /business organizations also engage social media in marketing their products/services (e.g. using the number of “Likes” to know their target audience), and NGOs/Charitable organizations use social media to educate people about their schemes such that they can reach a wider audience. Many positive aspects though…

However, there is a growing concern by the Government agencies, business organization, ethnic groups and parents on the excess use of social media. Remember that it has “viral” ability for potentially exponential spread of information by word of mouth and interlinking of the various social media platforms. It has both positive and negative impact though – the rising awareness of anti-corruption movement in India and the recent revolutions in Gulf against the dictators /rulers are some of the positive examples. Along with these, one should not forget the horrors of August-2012 in India – Twitter and Facebook messages along with bulk SMS and MMS triggering a social division and hate between North-East vs. West and South of India – in Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad…

Unless the use of social media is controlled i.e. either self-controlled or monitored by an Authority, I am sure, the evil force of social media will overpower the rest. There must be a sense of responsibility and maturity that we need to exhibit while publishing any information in any such social networking sites. Wake-up calls have been notified by Government agencies (recently Govt. of India has banned Maoisit literature on Facebook), business organizations and Judiciary; in India, in Gulf and in many other parts of the world.

These days, police is keeping an eye on anti-social elements and their day-to-day activities, companies regularly check the credentials of their employees and new joiners, parents check their ward’s activities, many who are nuptial -hopefuls check most of the details of the users concerned, and many more… As reported today, Facebook also plans to call up and verify in case it suspects a user profile.

Though this kind of monitoring approach will restrict our privacy and free speech to some extent, it is of course required for a greater cause, which is subject to debate and judicial review. When there is an absolute need to check the spread of any noxious “viral” information and to maintain or restore peace and normalcy, then I certainly see a merit behind this. It is evident in most of the cases.

Aamjunta… just think over it.

Are you just social or active in this kind of social media ?

You are the best judge to think, to act, to react and to answer this crucial concern…

 

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