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Monday, December 18, 2017

Communication Overload

Credit: bizarro comics.com
The new era.

How we communicate with others is a key to healthy living.

So there I was, sitting comfortably inside a church pew listening to one of Dallas’ most popular preachers spreading his message, when curiously, I decided to gaze around and take note of others cell phone usage. What I saw was the inspiration of this week’s topic.

The Preacher’s message this week was very timely: How to take a day off; not only taking at least one day off each week from anything work-related, but really taking it off away from cell phones, computers, and anything electronic which could distract from quality time with family, friends, or doing something one regards as relaxing. You’d think a meager hour on a Sunday, in a church, among other believers would demand some undivided attention; it certainly does mine, but what I saw really blew me away.

As I looked to my immediate left, a woman I’ve known for several years was typing away, flipping through text, and scrolling between her phones screen pages at lightning speed. To my right, I saw several children, each doing the same. The row of seats in front of me, I counted at least ten pairs of eyes looking downward, diverting their attention to the small glows atop their laps. Then I casually glanced backward, the same, everywhere.

After watching this modern day spectacle, some friends and I met to each lunch. Well, needless to say, more of the same occurred between bites of chips, salsa, and main course meals. Very little real conversation seemed to be going on among the small restaurant as I surveyed each booth. Rather, loud talking into speakers and answering ring tones as they continually attacked from all angles. And the tables where children and parents sat together? The children typed away as their parents sat, staring into space, appearing almost helpless and powerless to stop the madness.

Later that evening, I had dinner with a lovely woman who I’ve been friends with for a couple of years. She’s recently divorced with two kids (teenagers) and it was her ex-husbands weekend for visitation. As we drove to a local restaurant I saw her dreaded I-phone enter my peripheral vision. I say this because she’s one I consider a phone-a-holic. Much to my pleasure, her conversation to one of her kids was cut short, thank God, thanks to a dead battery. Minutes later, she asks me, “Could I borrow yours for a minute?”

“Sorry, I don’t have it with me.” I proudly said.

“But, why?”

“We’re only going to be gone for an hour, maybe, so why would I need it?”

“What if you have an emergency?”

I laughed. “You mean a life-changing, death defying one during the next hour?”

“Ya’ll,” she almost shouted.

I could almost sense panic within her as I continued laughing inside. “Listen, you’ll be home soon, besides your kids are fine, they’re with their father, and you just talked with them, what, five minutes ago? Sorry, but I’m not understanding the urgency here.”

Needless to say, I’m sure she ran toward her phones battery charger upon entering her doorway. Now, I’m having a little fun right now, but here’s the point: Have we entered an era of complete dependency on electronic communication, making us feel almost lost without it, if even for a few minutes? Has our independence as individuals taken a back seat to key strokes, and symbols on a screen instead of the spoken word? Are we, as human beings, destined to be robotic in our approach to inter-personal relationships? Do many always desire to be wanted, needed, or even competitive with others according to the number of texts and e-mails they receive? And I ask, whatever happened to living a peaceful lifestyle, i.e. a springtime walk, uninterrupted romantic date, meal with family or friends, vacation, or alone time immersed inside a novel on a rainy day away from the constraint, self-dependency, and control of ringing gadgets? Now, using these devices for work during business hours is, of course, a requirement for most of us. Even some personal usage is realistically desirable. But, being shackled 24/7 is, in my opinion, not healthy at all to ones mental balance.

One way to healthy living and avoiding lots of unwanted stress is setting personal boundaries with how we communicate. And whether you’re sitting inside a church pew, eating at a restaurant, gazing inside your lovers eyes, or lounging atop your favorite beach, there’s a time and place for staying electronically connected-- it’s a simple matter of discipline and using proper respect, and etiquette towards others. Personally, I won’t have a relationship with someone who prefers typing to actually talking. It just isn’t, in my opinion, a respectful way of having a connection.

I fear for our youth. They’ve been raised with this type of communicating and rarely do I see any talking one-on-one, face-to-face without some form of gadgetry interrupting. It’s as though their reliance on cell phones and computers have become part of their DNA and their only way of expression is through texting or e-mailing. I only hope as they grow older they begin to see, and learn the true value of expression without an omnipresent force tugging at their fingertips.

Thanks for listening…



About the Writer

Randy Mitchell is a blogger on lifestyle, writing and relationship topics and is a published author of inspirational romance. His first novel "Sons In The Clouds" is available in paperback on Amazon. To read more about Randy, visit www.theinspirationalwriter.com.
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12 comments on Communication Overload

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By HomeRearedChef on December 04, 2012 at 04:26 pm

Oh, I am not only listening, Randy, but I completely agree with your article. I can't tell you how often I comment to my husband that all we see now are people on their cell phones: walking on the street or in the mall, at a restaurant (couples sitting together are not talking but rather busy scrolling through their phone), heads are down, attention elsewhere.

If when we've gotten together with our grown children, at a restaurant, or dinner here at home, I will ask them to PLEASE put away their phones. I find it utterly rude. Basically, be with us or go home. We'll chat when you have time to give us.

I love that you have written this article. It needed to be said. Thank you! ~Virginia

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By Randy Mitchell on December 04, 2012 at 04:39 pm

Thank you, HRC, I appreciate you commenting. You said it correctly in regards to people talking on cell phones instead of talking with each other--be with us or go home.

All Best.

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By Barbara MacDonald on December 04, 2012 at 05:05 pm

I'm happy you called attention to this and I totally agree...people are forgetting how to communicate face to face and it is so sad to see. I may be the only person I know who does not use a cell phone at all. I recently found out a dear friend's daughter has breast cancer...and yes , she is on my Facebook page...but I wanted to actually send her a card in the "snail" mail...I still have so many cards I have gotten over the years and they hold special memories from dear friends and family. It is just more personal I think to take the time to send something they can actually touch...great article Randy...:-)

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By melanie jean juneau on December 05, 2012 at 12:18 am

wonderful article, great writing style, amusing tone that shows how ridiculous we have become.

Well, I don't have a cell phone but the other 10 people in my family do. I am proud to say that they go for hours without looking a cell phones, iphones, ect. when we get together

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By Rum-Punch Drunk on December 05, 2012 at 01:51 am

All this technology has truly weakened our way of communicating face to face for sure. I loved what you said and it's so true. There is one person that I use to ring for a chat but every time I'm on the phone to her, her mobile rings and she puts me on hold to answer her mobile, then she says she'll call me right back but hours later I ring her and she's still on the mobile. That little attitude didn't last for long, and neither did the phone calls ha ha ha. Everyone seems to think that their time is more precious than yours, and they are the only ones who have things to do even when they are the ones that invited you out.

Maybe we should get the big companies to turn off the internet systems, the mobile systems etc for 1 whole day a week to give us a break, if the plugs are pulled then you have no choice but to communicate a different way. Can you imagine, no landline phones, no mobiles, no internet for 24 hrs?

You did a good job with this article, so thanks for a good read and chuckle :)

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By Uttam Gill on December 05, 2012 at 02:51 am

“Are you there Randy...can you hear me...It seems I am not able to pick up...Oh! I mean to say my phone is not picking up signal...I really did a mistake buying this junk of piece...can you believe it, how miserable it is without Cell phone...Oh I must say I felt as if life is taken away from me...Whatever it is I called you to inform that Johnny is no more...Now I am hanging my phone be there at...”...In this mono conversation death has become too insignificant and that’s how invasively this electronic means of communications are making us so insensitive...This is a trend which has far reaching ramification...

I have seen people carrying cell phone in funerals and not hesitating a moment to use the instrument regardless of the sanctity of rituals...I was shocked the priest while offering the last prayer on death of my father...Took out from his pocket a cell phone to read the message.

Incredibly depressing was instead of my father’s name he took my name for soul to rest...I laughed but my wife at the end of the prayer pounced at him and he just casually took the whole thing with no apology in his words and eyes...

Use cell phone but don’t be insensitive...Randy this is very thought provoking article

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By Randy Mitchell on December 05, 2012 at 10:03 am

I love all of your comments!

MO9, you're lucky your kids put them away for so long, giving you their attention. Most I know with kids almost feel powerless to stop this way of living and really have to compete for communication.

Rum-Punch Drink, I love your idea about shutting things down for a day. It would give people a chance to re-connect, and start living normally, if only for a short while. And like you, I refuse to compete with someone else's cell phone for attention.

Uttam, that's crazy about the priest at your father's funeral. What a display of dis-respect! I've seen and heard folks using their phones inside stalls at airport restrooms, crazy.

Thanks to all of you, this is a fun conversation.

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By Randy Mitchell on December 05, 2012 at 10:07 am

Barbara, that's wonderful that you take the time to still send cards. Most I know would much rather just send an e-mail, or text instead of putting out a little effort. This is the problem with electronic communication, it takes the human factor out of the equation. Thanks for commenting!

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