Building Babel

Modern communications biblical lesson

No, I don’t like using religious imagery as I try to convey my stories. Yet, the very communication itself is perfectly associated with that piece from Sunday school readings, and billowing Preachers aiming at keeping the messaging on point. Genesis 11:1-9 tells us the story occuring in the land of Shinar (Babylonia), where wanting to make a name for themselves, the people decided to construct a massive towered city, which at the top would reach the heavens. Disliking their hubris God let them begin, to leave a record for humanity, He then intervened by confusing the language the builders spoke, and sending them to the corners of the world. That is an example of how the Bible accounts for the different languages we speak. It is also a point of insight into the power of communications, the importance of understanding, and why we are seemingly in the process of tearing down our own cities and towers looking for the answers that can’t be found in this overtly tactile world.

This is something that has been developing for years. From media to interpersonal, to societal emotions, we ingest our messages differently, we express ourselves differently than just a decade before. The languages we speak are more universal, more understood, and at the same time rife with dualities, misunderstandings, and abusive means. We have developed mental algorithms of knee jerk, lightning fast reactions to information. Interpretations that require more information, the understanding of the complex subjects, all brought down in many cases to their simplest and most fallible forms. While simultaneously spurring nonsensical depth onto the simplest of information, misguidedly applying the baubles which addles and confuses.

Photo by Ryan Millier from Pexels

People just don’t get along the way they used to, talk to each other like they used to. People share information today that just a few short years ago would have seemed intrusive to say the least. Our politics, religions, nationalities, and worldviews, are on display today as no other time in recorded history. Everything from what folks eat to their birthdate is an ingredient in a monetized stew of information, available to anyone who needs, or wants to know. As the world undergoes these changes the evidence is right in front of us, hiding in plain sight. Ignored, or marginalized, fear of the unknown, and curiously aloof as to what it says about our species as a whole.

We can begin anywhere, the media in all of its forms, the political partisanship, and cloistered mindsets. Those areas of it all have been inspected to their thinnest margins that the substance seems like a gritty taste that keeps on developing on the palate. They become overly sensitive emotional pieces, or the blunt and stoic get over it renditions of the various ego’s that arrive at the keyboard that day. Those ego’s and their like id’d friends and acquaintances echo throughout the day to day activities that we all do in our heavily digitized lives. We are more and more each day, learning and adapting to the lack of actual speech, interpersonal interactions, and the very basic contact of other human beings. Growing out of our skins in the most painful metamorphosis, we are tearing down a grand structure that had served us well. Always in a state of change, the very construct of human interactions, and the limits of our ability to convey are grinding to a halt.

When Did We Stop Talking to Each Other?

Pixabay

The number of people who do not speak with another human during the day is rising. The number of people who do not speak with another human for a week is rising. The same numbers are those that describe a month, and months is rising. We are “talking” more than ever, but not saying a word. That is the critical crux of this, this part of us that has taken the biggest chunk from society, life, the changes many can feel if they cannot see it. When the world came to a halt in these last few months the staggering ease at which some applied a lockdown lifestyle, the away from life routines to a homebound subscript was, and is, amazing. Those whose lives changed dramatically were locked down with the people whose lives changed little. Whether through introversion, depression, or any number of elements, some people lived like this already for the most part, a quarantine brought little change.

Lockdown-was-supposed-to-be-an-introverts-paradise-its-not

Communications, as far as we humans are concerned, is more than words and pictures. It is more than a digitized conveyance that is repeatedly honed to appeal to our senses. One of the first things I remember about church, and a preacher, was that he smelled, not badly, but not really pleasant either. I would come to learn that those were mothballs I smelled, and to get used to it on Sunday’s. So my introductory sermon was spent wondering why he sounded so confident, and knowing, when he stunk like that? Didn’t he know we could all smell him? That little bit of information didn’t really mean a whole lot in the bigger picture, but at times in life they did. At times the communication being done had nothing to do with anything more than body language, eyelash batting, and the depths we find in subtleties that we as a species evolved over the millenia. We as a species are turning away from our biggest strength, our best understandings, and our undeniable connectedness.

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

When I was a young man, I went to a concert with my girlfriend and her parents. It was a Roger Whittaker concert, not something that someone my age or musical appreciation would ever have gone to on my own accord. I had seen his commercials for years on late night TV, they had brought about a silent chuckle, but nothing more. Yet, to this day, I can say that it was one of my most favorite, and memorable concerts that I have ever attended. In person his voice was charismatic, his demeanor humble, but still engaging. His talent was all of him, and that two dimensional ad that played on the TV did nothing to show this part of his performance abilities. About that same time I was engaged in a semi-political organization, and was able to meet the Governor of my state, someone I had seen and admired a bit on the TV. He was someone who I believed was honest and appreciative, until I met him in person, and found him to be lacking much of that perceived character. Those are but a few highlights that I found laying about, the truth is in fact that most people I meet in real life hold an intrinsic nature that I find endearing. As fallible, and infallible in their lives as I have been in mine, the accumulation of their lives may be different, but not dismissable. It carries equal, and appreciative discernment when actually brought to mind.

The interaction between people that we are watching slip away is not only for the ease of operation, but also the ease of manipulation. Not everything is done to manipulate, deceive, trick us into anything, but most can be hoisted onto some mental platform to imply it does. Today there seems to be a functional equivalency between process and speed. Success is based on expediency versus thoroughness, action as opposed to “inaction.” That part of our instant on, flashcard snapping, now now societal model has usurped a great deal of our higher functioning thinking abilities. The need for instant answers in a world of constant questions demand some synapses to find the easiest pathways they can. When confronted with the overwhelming amount of information available, the pathways of fall in line are chemically more appealing than the trudgery needed to discern other options, other ideas, and ideals. That need for speed is the subsequent cost of trying to match up our real world with the one we see in pictures and soundbites.

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It is a part of the processes we experience in evolution, or devolution… Change originating from micro incidents is not always noticed on the macro level until the bumps arise. During the last few months the topography has certainly taken on a different appearance, but the beginning of this was laid down years ago. The need for human to human contact is going to be discussed at length in the coming months and years. The biological, psychological, and chemical necessities will be debated, discussed, and drug about in the various gatherings of those like Id’d people. The world will grapple with those who wish to go forward, go backward, those who wish the status quo never changes, and those wishing for some mixture of all of the above. The ability to convey, the ability to inform, and the ability to lead, are in more jeopardy as we close up, close off, and harm our ability to overcome the ever pressing changes we encounter.

Humans don’t squarely fit into this model being developed though. As much as the societal model is heavily influenced by electronic means, it is based upon the human mandate, which is an unbreakable analog. Anthroposemiotics is a field dedicated to researching how we humans communicate, in some theories proposed, language may have been developed in order for us to learn how to make tools. and as I have written before about mirror neurons, the mind, and our human connectedness don’t only communicate on the physical plane. The subtleties of mind to mind transfer of thoughts is just beginning to open new insights into our beings, and our brains. Providing the idea that communications is being oversampled on the levels of sight, and sound, to the detriment of the act of communications as a whole.

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

You only need to examine the list of communications skills that employers are looking for in our society, our civilization. They include emotional intelligence, clarity, friendliness, empathy, and respect, just to name a few. Those are basic human traits, they are not universal, but they are basic, while understanding that not everyone was given a plethora of any of them. Those are the things we are getting away from in this time of change. In this era of turning the boat it’s important to be able to sail straight once the course is made apparent. The pieces, and actions, the words, and the pictures, will have to align if the structure is going to bear weight, support a civilization, and convey the magnitude of the challenges ahead for us all. We are at the end of a chapter, with blank and fear filled pages left to be written. We are a species on the verge of losing our voices to the din of inequities, and we are constructing the means to the end unless we connect once more to that human analog, to that human being, to our very connected future.

That connected future will take on new responsibilities, a different outlook on personal choices and the needs of others. It will take place in a more digitized manner, and foregoing much of that needed human contact. It is during this time that the messages being relayed, and interpreted, conveyed and construed, are understood as just part of the communications we humans use. Being aware of the connectedness we share beyond that of a virus is something to remember going forward. The importance of that human to human connection, and its key to our evolution, and progress, may just change our maddening ways, our building Babel.

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