At a popular restaurant in La Trinidad there were a father, mother, and two sons, in their late teens. The whole time they maybe spoke 20 words with each other. Why? Because each one was preoccupied with their tablets or cell phones.
“How sad!” I thought. “Here they have an opportunity to get to know what is going on in each others’ lives and thinking, but they prefer to relate to gadgets.” I asked the waitress if such behavior was common, and she said it certainly was. As I watch people in other restaurants and public places, I have to agree.
When I got home I shared the experience with a couple of visitors, in their 20’s. One never looked up or acknowledged my presence, the other just grunted, and proceeded to text away. I was frustrated: I’ve taught Interpersonal Communication for decades, and here I was unable to communicate!
Many families are not communicating. Oh, they may “tell stories” from time to time, but they’re not connecting with each other. Of course not just families. At BSU where my wife teaches I see students sitting in the halls between classes, not even chatting, nor reading their text books. They’re texting away. They may think they’re communicating, but only a small part of their brain is involved, and the part that shares feelings and tunes into others is not involved.
Communication is a “meeting of meanings”, because meanings are first of all in people. It’s essential for personal and familial happiness. If you doubt this, compare the body language and facial expressions of families in restaurants of those who are chatting together and those just eating in silence, maybe each in their own cell-phone or tablet world.
Communication means “common oneness”, and involves sharing thoughts and feelings. The silent treatment that spouses and others give each other is deadly. It makes people feel as valued as an empty glass sitting near the kitchen sink, a glass which once refreshed others with cool water, juice or wine, but now just sits there, waiting to be put in the cupboard.
This is the start of a series on communication, especially in families, because many families are in trouble. They are “talking without listening” (from “The Sound of Silence.”) Or letting the TV or “social media” do baby sitting. Or dads drinking with their barkada buddies, or working overseas.
I bring to this endeavor also a biblical perspective: communication is a major way for us to fulfill the law of love. If you are concerned with this issue, stay tuned.