We don’t communicate. I can bet you expected me to add “anymore” but I wasn’t going to, because (whether you read it as a reference or not) “It’s a trap!” I don’t think we have ever been good at communicating.
Civilization – essentially a good thing that gives us safe shelters, as well as platforms to communicate and share ideas – also has the alienating, perverse effect of equating what people are to what they seem to be.
Too often people are equated to stereotypes related to the country or culture they come from, to the job that they do and to their social status. There have always been such people as philosophers, writers, artists, scientists – in short, people with a genuine wish to communicate – and, while they are respected in some circles, the general consensus seems to be that they are a bit loony. Just think of all the – real or fabricated – anecdotes about famous people that are supposed to highlight how weird and outside the norm those people were. Humans have the bad habit of seeing genuine attempts at communication and self-expression as suspicious.
On the other hand, humans have always been good at fabricating false and dangerous narratives, of which my personal favourite is that of the self-made man/woman, which implies that only people with the ability to get rich are worth something in this world, even when they cheat or when the game was rigged in their favour in the first place. I call this narrative dangerous because it gives birth to the Donald Trumps of this world. Yet, while we are unanimous in despising Donald Trump, we are also unanimous in taking for granted and even celebrating the toxic narrative that made his existence possible in the first place. The truth is, this narrative has existed since the dawn of civilization: do what you have to do to get ahead. Walk all over others. Lie. Cheat. This is the opposite of communication. Here’s what poet e.e. cummings had to say about this mentality:
“pity this busy monster, manunkind,
not. Progress is a comfortable disease”
However, progress only becomes a disease when it excludes the human element. We now have more means to communicate than ever before in history, but not only do we take them for granted, we also forget their initial purpose. We use our smartphones to show off and play Candy Crush instead of calling or texting our family members and friends to ask a simple “How are you?”
When everything has a price, it’s difficult not to feel that you are being excluded from or denied many things. When people only approach other people if they want something from them, and indifference and passive-aggression are too common, it’s difficult not to become jaded and cynical. However, the best things in life are still free. What you do without having to for people who might not be able to repay you still makes a difference. And, to me, the best thing in life is, hands down, approaching someone just because you get a good overall impression of them and genuinely want to know more about them – not just because they’re hot when you need to get laid or because they’re someone well-connected socially when you need connections. We may think it’s hard to find common ground with others but, if we try in all honesty, it becomes easy and we see that we can find common ground with anyone. All it takes is will.
Anca Rotar is a Romanian-born writer, over-thinker and caffeine addict. She is the author of two books, Hidden Animals and Before It Sets You Free, both available from Amazon.com. Among her interests, which she finds it hard to shut up about, she counts fashion, yoga, city breaks and deadpan sarcasm. She is also currently studying Japanese, so wish her luck. You can sample bits of Anca’s creative writing here.