The Numbing of America
Have you noticed a lack of face-to-face, mouth-to-mouth communication? I have. Sure, people communicate with each other ad nauseam via Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, email, etc. but struggle to include inflection, facial expression and tone. Emoticons help somewhat, so does punctuation. EVER HAVE SOMEONE WRITE TO YOU IN ALL CAPS? What does that feel like? I once got really pissed off when I thought someone was shouting at me; turns out, she didn’t realize her caps lock was on. Here are some of the things that make me cringe:
A toddler with a stupid binky stuck in his mouth. The mother jabbers on with a friend, does her email, shops, etc. and the kid is forced to be mute. No interaction going on there. What the kid learns is: better to be silent than to try to make yourself be understood. I’ve seen 6 and 7-year olds with this thing stuck in their mouth … talk of incompetent parenting! I’m sure it’s the same mother whom I saw one day feeding her infant child sitting in the stroller. The mother (behind the stroller, unseen by the baby) stuck the bottle in his mouth. Just what the kid needs; a disembodied hand with no eye contact, no cooing or babbling, no communication between mother and child.
The ubiquitous TV in the doctor’s waiting room. Nobody’s allowed to converse with other patients (God forbid you should compare symptoms, treatments, or just discuss the weather.) And reading a book is impossible with the TV on. I’ve seen children staring starry-eyed at the boob tube while mommy or daddy check their Blackberry or, equally stare into space. No talking going on here!
Ever watch a group of teenagers sitting around together (I use that term loosely). I remember laughing at jokes, singing, making fun of teachers, discussing fashion, or just chatting about life. These teens are “talking” to other teens electronically. They might as well be with robots.
Our communication skills are going to the dogs. Rarely do you hear inspiring discussions or eloquent debates going on. Perhaps that’s why so few of us bother to still follow the rules of spelling and grammar, what with smiley faces, made-up words to negotiate texting quickly and ignoring punctuation altogether.