The Importance of Communication in the Modern Age


There’s usually an uncomfortable numbness that sets in after listening to the news. We try to understand who said what to whom, what happened to that country, why he pulled the trigger, how the bomb went off, where the epidemic is, and when it will all be over. We hear about yet another instance of a white police officer shooting a young unarmed black man. Maybe someone will switch the channel. Maybe someone will turn off the radio. Maybe someone will bring up a new subject.


It’s much easier to contemplate the pros and cons of a turkey club, discuss the current weather, busy yourself with work, or scroll through social media feed than it is to dive headfirst into the cold, murky waters of “Today’s News.” These conversations are a rarity. Maybe in a brief moment with a close family member or best friend late at night, and only after a couple hours of sitting, but not in everyday exchanges. Small talk, chit-chat, and gossip have evolved to replace much of the meaningful conversation that once took place between friends, peers, coworkers and complete strangers. If a difficult topic does come up, in many scenarios we refrain from sharing our personal opinions, ideas or experiences with others because it can be too exposing or feels uncomfortable. Whether it be for politeness or tact, disagreement has even become socially taboo in many contexts when controversial issues surface in a discussion. We go to great lengths to avoid the awkwardness or silence that often accompanies the beginnings of a sincere and expressive conversation.


Passively listening, changing the channel, turning off the radio or engaging with a smartphone instead of other people are all a disservice to ourselves and others. Today, it’s almost instinctual to respond with “Good! How are you?” and a smile when someone asks you how you are doing. This simple interaction displays the fake and superficial conversational culture that’s the norm in today’s world. We wade on the surface, afraid to dive down any deeper than we can touch. By taking the initiative to have a real discussion about a difficult topic with someone, we have the opportunity to develop our voices as individuals and eventually become confident enough to share more than just a weather update when stuck in an elevator with a stranger. As sincere conversation becomes standard, it also becomes easier to discuss difficult topics and you’ll eventually be free from the fear of angering others and being seen as unpopular. Openly sharing an opinion also helps us learn that were not infallible, and our opinion can, and often is, misinformed. Because of this, we are encouraged to listen to the news, do research and explore the topics we are passionate about so we can present an opinion backed by fact and reason. Through deep and concentrated conversations, change begins and we, as humans, become more in tune with each other and the universal struggles we all share. Through these conversations, empathy grows.