This is the common human wish:
“Relate with me—don’t step away!”
Too much ‘communication’ occurs through e-mail and social media these days—certainly that which involves the emotions; our humanity. We use electronic media to communicate the issues of our hearts—and it is a poor choice of media. It is obvious people will be hurt as a result of callous use of unrelational media. Even skilled use of unrelational media will most often be misunderstood.
For some strange reason we have come to expect communication to be easy—for understanding to be achieved through electronic means when it is hard enough for understanding to be achieved face-to-face.
And the reason we use electronic media to deal with our most difficult relational transactions is we lack the courage to face someone—to have the hard conversation—to their face.
In a relational world, that requires courage from us to communicate, we have the perfect excuse to shrink from that courage—use electronic media.
This is a lesson for everyone with an e-mail address and Facebook and Twitter accounts. Whoever relates electronically is tempted to transgress the vital relational covenant humans have with each other within the spectrum of the emotions.
What human beings really want is getting other human beings to talk to them.
What we are really after is a relationship—it is essential for us in being human.
But we have slipped into some rather lazy habits; we might just as well prefer relating with people ‘the easy way’, which is inevitably the harder, more isolated way. We more prefer these days to sit safely and isolated behind our laptop monitors and iPhone screens. But in doing this we negate our humanness. We become our own worst enemies.
Becoming less relational is not the answer in becoming happier and having better lives.
Rekindling the Desire to Relate
Whilst the world may not be designed around face-to-face communication anymore, we will find a greater deal for satisfaction in going back to the old way; in having relational conversations, especially where the emotions are involved.
But we are still likely to be affronted by many others who will refuse to relate.
We have bosses, authorities, peers, acquaintances, and even friends and family, all over God’s green earth, who insist upon communicating with us via unrelational means. They love their systems, their gadgets, their technologies. And perhaps we do too. But we cannot expect a machine or a machine-like process to replace what is irreplaceable—that is, the necessary loving integrity that is achievable through human communication.
Our challenge, should we accept it, is to convert important relational transactions—the good ole fashioned conversation—from machine back the human form. Any relational transaction that involves the emotions, and collective thought for that matter, is an important relational transaction.
This will take effort. It will also take love, not to mention courage and commitment and discernment. Indeed, it will take all our godly character to get communication right, which is also to risk getting it wrong because we are human. Electronic media is no real aid in this quest to communicate soul-to-soul, especially by modes of conflict.
Certain things cannot be communicated via e-mail or chat or text message. Human communication, especially conflict, is more intricate than that. We cannot expect technology to replace character. What human beings need most of all is to relate with other human beings.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.