As I consider the perspective my children have on communication—surrounded as they are by a plethora of means of instantaneous connection with others, with information, and with entertainment—I realize that this inundation of connectedness in which it takes but the tap of a screen to feel at least superficially linked, is perhaps engendering, not deeper relationship and connectedness with others, but ironically a profound sense of isolation. Never truly left to figure out let alone express anything on their own—always told what, why, and how to proceed—our children are nonetheless surrounded by deep moats.
In a great incongruous reversal, connecting has become too easy; maybe it has come to the point that it is so easy it is no longer communication at all. Is no one really working at expression? No one really listening? Andrew Kern once said something to the effect that we live in a world of competing monologues (A Contemplation of Nature). In a world where neither the writer nor the reader expects to exert any energy to reach across the voids between us, we may have to consider a reality in which communication, understood as the meeting of minds, is perishing.
In order to truly appreciate words—spoken as well as written—we need to work both at expressing ourselves and at listening to others express themselves. Doesn’t the love of others need to outweigh the cost of the effort for minds to meet? Is this not the unfathomable beauty expressed by the Creator in the Incarnation of the Word?
Although I probably find myself at odds here with everyone from the Masters Fowler to Misters Strunk and White, I need to stake a claim: communication—spoken and written—is most assuredly not the sole realm of experts trained in rhetoric and persuasion, nor is it the sole milieu of the creative writer; it is the inheritance of all men.
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