The decay of communication
By: Brian McLeod
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 06:00 am
For those of you who managed to get to the beach this summer I believe you likely witnessed the same event that I noticed.
At every beach, and every pool, a vast majority of adults sat on lawn chairs, pounding away at their cellphones, as if their life depended on the next message. Meanwhile, the pool (or the lake as the case may be) was filled with young children hollering to their parents to watch them perform their latest heroics. Despite all the screaming, these same parents missed virtually all these performances, and thereby lost out on an important occasion that parents who didnít bring their cellphones will likely remember, and cherish, for the rest of their lives. In Kelowna, my daughter had to rescue a young boy in danger of drowning, yet 50 feet away sat Mom and Dad, on their phones and totally oblivious to the potential tragedy being played out right under their noses.
I also stopped by numerous restaurants. Table after table hosted couples of various genders, most of who also hammered away at their cellphones, ignoring the other person sitting right beside them. When I go to a restaurant, conversing with family and friends is a necessary ingredient for a good evening. To invite friends to dinner, and then to have both parties ignore each other and focus strictly on their phones seems to be a waste of time.
While one could make a very strong case that these devices, instead of improving our communications, are actually damaging these communications, thatís not my point. My concern involves cellphones, computers, voice mails, emails, Facebook and all the assorted devices and programs associated with these items. This machinery has dealt a mortal blow to our manners, to our etiquette, and to our inherent need for human contact. Lately, I have found it difficult to actually have a conversation with many people. Before the discussion even begins, a cellphone interrupts us, and the receiver of the call invariably answers their phone. I also find it equally disconcerting when trying to have a discussion with someone who is constantly checking their computer for new Facebook posts or emails.
For those of us who are around 55 years of age, or older, we likely were taught that such interruptions are rude. However, for most individuals under the age of 35, such activities are simply normal, and it would never dawn on them that they were being rude, itís just ďbusiness as usual.Ē As humans continue to interact less and less with each other, the frequency of rudeness, fighting and callous disregard for others will escalate. If my theory is right that these forms of communication are also addictive, then we face the reality that, every day, more and more people are becoming addicted to a behaviour that is destroying human civility and kindness. In the end, we may discover what has to be the ultimate irony: that real communications between people can only occur after we destroy the new tools that promised us better communications.
Brian is a long time St. Albert resident.