The meaning of your communication is the response you get

By | August 9, 2014

I love to write. Well, to be precise, I actually love to talk. My blog posts, as well as the very long emails I’m noted for, tend to be conducted in my own voice. I can’t write anything that I can’t hear myself saying in my voice. I believe that somewhere earlier I confessed my lifelong love affair with the sound of my own voice. If you know me, which a few of you do and most don’t, then you probably can’t read anything I’ve written without virtually hearing me speak it aloud.

I write these long things because there’s no one to whom to talk about them at the point at which I’m ready to discuss. Besides, they afford me the exquisite pleasure of being able to hear myself anew as I read them over again. I’d love more dialogue, but failing that, I’ll settle for oratory.

This blog is essentially a collection of such monologues. Its air of general disorganization lays bare a mind essentially disorganized but teeming with strange fancies. My current disorganization is structural. All my life, I’ve relied on structures and organization provided by others. First my family, which was very good at structuring mind and behavior along particular lines without ever being punitive or even explicit about it; you just did as was expected. Then school, lots of it; lots of structure. When I got to college and found less institutional structure, games provided an endless sink for my free time. Then work, and more family, and home remodeling, and a whole raft of stuff. The twelve years with TUI were particularly structured, since the school was more than happy to suck up almost every free hour that I had, with a few left over for work on the house..

When the university cut me adrift a couple of years ago, I was really lost for a time. When I say I “squandered” my time, you wouldn’t be wrong thinking “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “Ancient Aliens”. My present homeboundedness and back problems strongly discourage outside jaunts and distractions. “Adrift” was precisely the right metaphor – just tubing down the river of life, paying minimal attention to what’s happening on the banks.

I began online writing basically because I had no one to talk to. I started with a lot of commenting on various internet articles I’d read, as though this constituted professional exchange. At least it felt like it to me then, but now after some 1321 comments and 2557 upvotes (an average of just less than 2 per post), I’m not so sure. In that environment you are present only when you are present, not in between posting events. It’s easy to fall out.

The blog essentially emerged out of a number of posts I’d made that began to sound to me, as I read them over, like some things I could talk some more about.

The sometimes-not-so-nice thing about the blog mechanism is that it can lead you to concentrate entirely on what you are saying, whether or not there are ears on the other side. I have never had a particularly good sense of my audience. I believe that I now have all of about 22 regular readers. I’d love to have more, but I haven’t any read idea of how to go about getting them. I’m an acquired taste, it seems. So it’s rather akin to Demosthenes practicing oratory on the beach with a mouthful of pebbles, or St. Francis preaching to the birds. (Not, dear readers, that I am characterizing you as either pebbles or birds.)

For the time being, at least, I’m pretty much condemned to continue. I can’t not talk – expressing ideas and thoughts is at least as essential to me as a person as breathing. St. Francis had to preach about his God; I have to preach about mine, nebulous and humanist as they are. The same dynamic applies – an overwhelming need to share truths that are so wholly apparent to us that we can’t believe that others wouldn’t come to share them if we only preached it right. But just as St. Francis’ birds were unlikely to come to Christ in the approved manner, so my audiences, wherever they are, aren’t likely to join the Hallelujah Chorus praising my vision.

We both need a better focus on communication – as the NLP folks have said, “The meaning of your communication is the response you get”. I’ll hold further development of that idea and its application to teaching and education for the next one. Stay tuned (whoever and wherever you are!)