A weapon with two ends

This week I will talk mainly about communication, or often the absence of it. It’s a paradox, we live in the era of telecommunications, social media, video conferences, instant messaging at all times and it doesn’t matter where we are – almost always there is a way to locate us and communicate. This is great and often makes our lives easier, but we often make excessive use of mobile phones. Who hasn’t sometime been paying more attention to their mobile phone than to the other person while meeting up for a coffee? Constant connection to our phones often leads to a lack of face to face communication. It’s great to be able to connect with the world whatever the distances may be, but I believe we should often pay more attention to communication among people in real life.


Photo by Paul Shanks under a creative commons license on Flickr

In addition, each day I’m more convinced that many problems that arise in life are related, in some way or another, with communication. It’s a very broad concept that could be subject of many articles, but for the time being I will only focus on this post. Sometimes it’s the lack of communication, others it’s that we listen to respond and not in order to understand, or the lack of empathy, or the lack of full attention, or not paying attention to the non verbal language, or assuming that one person is trying to say something when maybe it’s got nothing to do with it, or thinking that your reality is the only one valid in the world we live in… I could carry on! All of this, when we don’t carry out an effective communication (which happens to all of us including me, of course), often gives way to misconceptions, misunderstandings and problems. In addition, we ourselves that can create a major problem or a whole dramatic story, starting from a minor detail.

So, I think all of us in our lives should make the effort of putting ourselves in other people’s shoes and think about how we say things. Active listening and trying to pay full attention is also essential. If in the middle of an important conversation or inside our class our eyes are focussing on a screen, in addition to not paying full attention to the words, we would be missing out a big part of the message: the non verbal communication. This would be the first obstacle on the way to generating problems and much greater misunderstandings.

These details may look like a minor thing, but it’s something much more serious than what it seems. After the tragic January 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Jordi Evole (a prestigious Spanish journalist) mentioned in his column that we European citizens tend to live in our own “micro-world”, with our “weapons of mass distraction” that entertain us constantly and we only react to terrorist attacks when they happen close to us feeling vulnerable (meaning that for instance we don’t react the same way to attacks in Nigeria, Pakistan or Siria). His article was hinting specially at the mainstream media companies.


Photo by Japanexpertena under a creative commons license on Flickr

Perhaps the biggest weapons of mass distraction of the 21st century are the mobile phones that we carry with us at all times. They’re great, but they’re a weapon with 2 ends (they empower you but can affect you negatively at the same time) that we should use wisely and without abusing. In my case each time I feel more need to disconnect, keeping my phone away from time to time or putting it on flight mode.

This post was originally published on March 17th 2015 in Spanish language for El Faro de Ceuta newspaper (printed and digital versions), at the author’s weekly section.

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