The thing about these trigger situations is that while many of them stay the same, people have changed quite a lot and continue to do so. So, what is the common denominator that is causing people in more recent years to engage in a fight or flight response to so many more situations? In the real world as well as on the internet I have noticed a sort of hyper-sensitivity in people in general as well as an almost total lack of true communication. Could the internet have something to do with it? Why are people suddenly overly sensitive to so much? I have been following this situation for quite some time now, on the internet and in the real world, and I can tell you unequivocally that people in general have become more emotionally sensitive, even emotionally crippled, than ever before. In a world where the majority of our communications are on screen, face to face communication is becoming a thing of the past. To be clear, certain interactions generally involve situations where it's commonplace to be disingenuous. These include but are not limited to situations such as interactions with folks working customer service jobs like waitresses or store clerks where people have to put on a facade. Those interactions are a totally different matter and are omitted as such in the context of this piece.
At the end of the day, I really don’t give a fiddler’s fart why people are more sensitive, this piece is simply my plea to all who read it to please help me in dealing with this growing problem. I remember a time when people were tougher and less afraid to speak their minds. I’m not suggesting we all go Wild West here either. I mean technically, America’s obsession with the Wild West seems almost overcompensation for something when you take into account that the entire era came and went in only about a twenty year period, in the big picture that isn't a very long time. No, going Wild West would be counterproductive, what I really want is for people to grow a thicker skin and become better communicators. This is where there should be a more clearly defined line between communication and confrontation. One of the biggest problems out there with regard to effective communication is that people more often than not assume a defensive position in preparation for confrontation. It’s like a default position that alludes to a world where a vast majority of people go into a conversation already assuming there will be confrontation. Start paying attention more, you’ll see it too. Listen to the semantics, watch the body language, few people actually just talk any more, it’s become all about being right and defending your position, it’s all about getting people to either agree with you or validate you in some other way.
Of course another gem is not talking about things at all in favor of pretending that by ignoring them they magically just vanish. This is most demonstrable in the realm of family. Families never want to talk about hot button issues, especially ones that have touched the family at one time or another. Birth control, for example, might be an issue. Most families have people who have given birth, maybe one that had an abortion, one who has a “special needs” child. Any combination of those (among others) will make talk about birth control challenging to say the least. Families are especially reticent when it comes to discussing things that have affected them from the past into the present. Things like abuse within the family or various other dark family secrets. “Let sleeping dogs lie” and “Let it go” are the catch phrases of the day when these issues present themselves. As to that last I would point out that based on simple logic one cannot let go of a thing until they have picked it up. Of course I’m not suggesting we all go into therapy together and come out sharing a hive mind, holding hands and chanting “Om Shanti Om." What I am suggesting is a little common sense and some balance, perhaps closure; easy when all involved parties communicate well.
How is the breakdown of communication connected to the ways in which we communicate? There is no age limit for this breakdown, there is no societal constriction such as a caste or class system, it affects all people from all walks of life and all ages. Things are in constant flux in this world, the average human represents hundreds if not thousands of variables when certain behavioral patterns and habits come into the picture. The problem itself has a root system in something I cannot put my finger on nor will I waste any more time than I have to as I favor being a part of the solution, not the problem. I propose that we all start thinking a little bit about how we communicate with one another. Does it always seem like a competition or a debate? Do you remember a time when communication was just fun, frequently educational and always interesting? Do current technologies have you communicating more onscreen than off creating a situation with no potential for body language, facial expression or tonal inflection to name a few. I have actually seen youth less accustomed to face to face communication get scared and intimidated by communications involving simple gesturing with the hands, nor can they wrap their heads around varying tonal inflection. Speak with passion and they assume you're angry, speak your mind and they get defensive. I won't even go into the fact that most don't listen anymore either, rather they just wait for their turn to talk at you.
As there are so many reasons people have forgotten how to communicate with one another, so many variables, it is likely that each person will find that their troubles stem from something unique to them alone. No two people are the same, but I guarantee, if you are human, you can work on your communications skills. This all sounds so easy but it is far more complicated than you would think. You have to develop patience. People might not always think the same way as you, that doesn’t mean to go try and find an online group that does. Just because a conversation may begin with disagreement that doesn’t mean both sides don’t have a valid point. The bottom line is to listen to them in the same way you want them to listen to you. I could go on and on about the various communication breakdowns I see every day. I could even include ways to possibly gain new insight into how to improve problem areas but more to the point, I could point out that it is up to each individual to decide how they want to communicate with others and I repeat, the choice is to be a part of the solution or a part of the problem.
This takes me back to the title of this piece; Communication vs. Confrontation. Ultimately how we communicate with one another and the quality of our inter-personal exchanges is of vital importance, we’re all each other’s got. With variables too numerous to count genuine real world communication is a challenge to be sure. Learning to communicate is one of the first steps to building stronger communities, it starts with the self, then the family, however we define it, then the community at large. In many ways we are smarter than we ever have been while at the same time we are being dumbed down, way down. Learning to communicate with one another is a step in the right direction, where it leads is up to us. I suppose that if we really want to know where better communication can lead us, we need to start communicating about it. While people are more sensitive than ever before it is the things they are sensitive about that are strange. In situations where sensitivity is called for and makes perfect sense there often isn’t any of it whatsoever. Meanwhile, people almost come to fists over which is better, oleo or butter. There is much to consider, there is no easy fix and working on one’s communication skills is much more complicated than it would seem with so many variables and possible outcomes. Are you up to the challenge?