One of the sadder things I’ve been alive to witness the tail-end of, is the art of polite, civil, conversation.
You may be inclined to think I’m overstating the case, and to be sure, this craft is not entirely dead by any means.
For the majority of persons in the United States though, there’s a failure to understand what it both means and benefits you and others, to be nice, kind and attentive as people issue forth; the obvious hope being one’s fellow conversant acts in the same manner.
One of the reasons I started writing, was that I began to see that I found myself in a fair few conversations in which I was lucky to get a word in edgewise, without being a total jerk in the process.
Funnily, I’ve found more than a few folks from other countries are much better at the interplay of words, than are many Americans.
People from India, by way of example—even the ones who’re largely “westernized” to a strong extent—are typically much more willing and able to hear what you have to say, waiting politely, then adding whatever they feel relevant to the conversation.
It’s true, there are folks from that country who think they’ve got it all figured out, just as there are here. For those, words often go into the meat grinder to be parsed into the appropriate phrases, resulting in an output from one of the known sectors of the supposed audience’s repertoire.
Though that’s the case, there are still a good many Indian folks, who carefully attend, and with equal consideration, respond in thoughtful, meaningful ways.
As in any dealings between two cultures with different sets of base philosophies (and India has many more than one such set, as far as I’m aware), there’s a need to allow your viewpoint to be shifted, so that you’re not making “American assumptions” when dealing with Indian ways of thinking.
Still, when dealing with people of at least some cultures foreign to me, I find that there continue to be those who understand and at least to some degree, value the art of first person communication.
For most U. S. citizens, this is not the case; and this is a problem most particularly with younger folks.
I’m pretty sure, some substantial part of the reason for this, is the Internet. For a time, one could say whatever one wanted, and largely consider oneself anonymous to the person or persons with whom one interacted there.
This seems to have carried over into social media, where people have been lulled into the idea that saying ever more outrageous things is totally acceptable—even expected.
This blog is a pretty direct result of that. I came to understand that people took what I was saying in response to them as some sort of challenge, beyond that of strictly questioning ideas and concepts, and decided it was necessary to attack if I simply replied with facts or thoughts, to something they’d said.
So my response was instead, to take the thing about which the person was speaking peruse it in detail, then work to formulate responses—if I felt they were needed—here.
As a result, most of the time, I work to keep from directly answering statuses and replies. Sometimes I fail at that, but largely, such is my intent.
It turns out another thing about blogging—other than decoupling the contents of a given piece from surrounding content—is that if you can get others to pay your scribblings mind, I believe you can come to a point where you’re able to reach a larger audience.
If you ponder that for a time, you begin to realize the importance of getting to the root of that which you’re addressing. The hope is that makes what you jot down even more useful overall.
Dealing recently with someone in a comment. I found that the process of exchanging ideas and philosophies, has degraded for many, further than I had previously supposed.
The person chose to respond to a somewhat lengthy consideration by another with a “joke” that looked for all the world like one of my least favorite forms of communication—the meme.
As is often the case, the individual expected that it would be possible to launch a thought in their witticism, that would go unchallenged on the basis that it was strictly intended to be something at which one might laugh.
The funny thing is, in time past, that would in no wise have been considered a reasonable expectation. Even that which was intended to amuse, would’ve been something open to question or conversation.
To be fair, in more recent days, the concept of “cancel culture” has made its way into society. This is the idea that someone should be banished from the public square, sometimes for as little reason as making an off-color or insensitive comment in jest.
I neither support such ideas, nor am trying to say that’s the sort of interaction I seek.
Even so, the fact that something is said in a way that causes it to be deemed “funny,” doesn’t and shouldn’t mean it’s off limits for consideration.
The ability to engage through things like puns and other entertaining means, allows the creative person to vary his or her speech or writing, so it’s the much easier to get through.
That ought not mean those looking on should ignore the content for the form.
Likewise, just because you said something in a way that made it seem a thing about which one might laugh, doesn’t mean you should count on immunity from correction, or additional consideration.
We need to understand that the primary purpose for human interaction, is to transfer knowledge. That doesn’t mean one may never have a trite or frivolous exchange, but it does mean that even such things can quickly become more weighty.
If you think that expressing things in humor should absolve you from inspection, I would urge you to change your consideration in that regard. The fact is, humor—as with poetry, and other forms of art—can be extremely effective vessels for the transmission of meaning from one to another, or potentially even to large numbers of others.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.