Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: internet use

Communication: Lost in Translation

Translation isn’t only words and images, their definitions and use in other languages. It’s cultural background and human experience.

This morning, just before my meditation, I read this:

“As best we can, we show others what we have seen up to now. It’s at best a progress report, a map of our experiences, by no means the absolute truth.”

Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

It sums up exactly the reason that I write and post here, and what I share on my social media feeds. My intent is not always understood. I feel that I’m frequently misunderstood. And only recently have I discovered that it’s not entirely my fault or even necessarily important.

As usual, I have a lot on my mind and I’m searching for a way to communicate it. The more I live, read, and think, the more I’m convinced that the closer and more interconnected this world gets, the more complicated communication becomes.

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

But Michelle! Isn’t it awesome that we can all instantly speak to each other, no matter where we are in the world? Isn’t it a great thing that anyone can (in many ways) freely produce and distribute any work they can come up with?

Yes, it is. But…

“Everyone I know has a big but.” – Pee Wee Herman

Communicating an idea is not simply speaking/writing a word in a particular language, or even sharing an image. Each of us brings our own experience to whatever we see and hear, we translate it through our own filter. And each of us also uses those experiences when we communicate with others.

No matter what translation tool we use, it’s not as simple as the definition of each word or image.

Well, sure, Michelle, of course!

The trouble I’m seeing is that we all believe we are speaking the same language, but we are not. It used to be so easy when we all grew up watching the same tv shows, hearing the same music, speaking the same language. We had the same cultural background, so there was no need to define and discuss every use of every word.

Today, that is not true, even when I’m speaking with a neighbor. Our world has become so connected and fragmented at the same time that it’s almost impossible to communicate with one another without a lot of time, effort, and patience, something we all seem to be running very short on.

Before you go crazy and think that I want to go back in time and change everything back the way it was, relax a little. I’m only saying that I’m struggling to communicate with the world, and watching others struggle to communicate and not kill each other is, not a little, frustrating, not mention heart wrenching at times.

Listening to a podcast earlier this week about the basis of human emotion, where they come from, and how we express them, the interviewer asked, (I’m paraphrasing) “What would you say the best way to know what someone is feeling or thinking is, from a scientific perspective?” She answered, “Ask them.”

I laughed when I heard that and added in my head, “And hope they are aware enough to know what they really mean and capable of expressing it.”

I’m not the first or only person in the world to struggle with communication, and certainly not the smartest either. But I’m sitting here thinking I’m sure the invention of the internet (like the printing press) will eventually lead humanity to a higher plane of existence, but hopefully (much like the printing press caused so many battles at first) we won’t destroy ourselves completely in the process.

My next reading, On Disobedience by Erich Fromm, is unexpectedly making me feel a bit optimistic for the future. I’ll tell you about that tomorrow!

Will the negative effects of social media destroy civilization?

Social media quote from Ready Player Two on book cover background.
The second of only two posts on this book!

“A world where people don’t go outside and touch each other anymore? Where everyone sleeps their lives away while reality collapses all around them?
Sometimes I think my parents are better off. They don’t have to live in this utopia you’ve all created.”

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

I honestly (most of the time) don’t believe the negative effects of social media and the internet will destroy the world as we know it, but I was in a bleak mood when I wrote this, so prepare yourselves. I’m not always this pessimistic, but lately, I’ve felt overwhelmed. I try to assume positive intent. I attempt to see things from a different perspective. But man…when everywhere I look (and I’ve been off social media for over a month now, mostly just looking at the physical world around me) all I see are zombies. I want to scream…WAKE UP!

Maybe I need some new friends? A new location? One of my sons has been out in the world recently. His reports come back positive for the most part. My youngest leaves for university in a few weeks and I’m looking forward to hearing his perspective of a whole new world.

Can we overcome the negative side of social media and use it in positive ways?

I can’t think of how to put this into words. This line just killed me. In fact, the whole book was overwhelmingly sad to me and not because I’m a technology hater. I love the internet. I loved social media, until the past couple of years. I see so much potential, so much to create with it.

But it seems the Ready Player Two characters are only reliving the past through virtual reality, escaping into old movies and music, instead of using the new medium to create and collaborate. I’d hoped the second book would build on the first. I’d hoped that the first book had taught humanity a lesson and that the second would be creative in showing us how we could build on this new technology in innovative and exciting ways. I wanted to see Lazarus soar to the skies with his new wings, with the lesson learned about flying too close to the sun.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe the internet is what ends up destroying us. We just can’t have nice things.

Have you read Ready Player Tw0? Did you read Ready Player One? Or watch the movie? Comment and let me know what you think!

Read my previous post about Ready Player Two, Reality is Not the Curated Fragments of Life in the Media.

If you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it on my Autobibliography page!

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