Today, we live in a world that is infinitely connected, yet farther away from one another than ever before. I have missionary friends in India that I can video-chat with via a variety of platforms, yet we find it difficult to communicate honestly, heart-sensitive issues with close friends, family, or coworkers, in a face-to-face, interpersonal setting.
Why is that?
It seems the majority of my peers would rather text than talk on the phone. Enduring the occasional ‘awkward’ silence and carrying on a conversation have become complex, laborious tasks that we would much rather avoid, if at all possible. And if we have to endure such a hardship, they better by golly know that we love them.
This mindset baffles me. There are many reasons behind the veil of communicative safety that we place ourselves behind, and I get it, to some degree. As an apt conversationalist, with a primarily extroverted personality, it is much easier for me to talk to anyone I want to, and much more difficult for others. I’m aware of that. I’m also aware of the ways in which I will often attempt to separate myself from any concrete connection to the words I speak, for fear they will not be fully accepted, or taken seriously. An example of this would be discounting a rather bold statement with nervous laughter afterward, or saying something along the lines of, “that’s JUST my opinion, anyways.”
Is this an acceptable and healthy way for us to live and interact with one another?
I argue that, “No, it is not.” There is nothing safe about trapping all of your innermost worries, burdens, desires, aspirations, dreams, crushes, and the like. Precautions should be taken to protect your heart. Absolutely. However, I believe that we are in an era that must call the twentysomethings and older to a higher standard of boldness in communication. After all, we are adults, and there is no reason to behave as passive-aggressive children anymore.
So, how do we bridge this communication gap that permeates the deepest levels of our culture?
If I were to have to choose between a bite-your-lip-and-keep-it-all-in communication style or a just-say-it mentality, I would choose to just-say-it, every time. Sure, it’s messy. Sure, you’ll say something stupid. Sure, someone might get hurt. Yes, you’ll make mistakes. But guess what? You’ll be living! You’ll have actual, meaningful relationships with actual, real people that probably actually care about you, because they’re still taking the time to talk to you, aren’t they? And we’ve already discussed just how difficult that is.
A just-say-it culture would be entirely different from the passive communicative setting we currently have ourselves used to. It would call for men to honestly state their feelings in relationships with the opposite-sex; it would require a bolder scope of dialogue; it would mean a lot more communicating, and a reciprocal level of increased community. Suddenly, an increasingly isolated, lonely, confused generation would be pressed closer together, because they’d be going deeper with one another.
I don’t think people should be so afraid to be themselves. One of America’s most revered freedoms is the ability to express oneself through the freedom of speech. Are we really free if constantly pressured to avoid entire honesty due to exterior pressures like the government or interior pressures like family, the church, and work? I’m an advocate of being yourself. Opposition to this idea would say that this encourages bad-behavior through word and deed, because that sort of freedom can lead to rebellion. My counterargument is simply that people will always do what they want to do; I simply think it is time we say what we want to say, and learn to productively, lovingly, and humbly deal with the consequences. Whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’, at least we will be brave, rather than cowardice, living rather than dead, and in communication rather than isolation.
But, these are “just my thoughts” (remember what I said earlier?), what are yours?