Communication and the written word isn’t what it used to be. Neither is the King’s English, grammar, punctuation or just about any integral part of listening, speaking and writing.
Why should we learn the basics of communicating in a world where today’s smartphone technology can and will do everything for us?
We’re busier than any time in our history trying to keep up with the latest technology of talking to one another. It’s about brevity and moving forward swiftly.
Don’t believe me, just ask the masses who today worship at the altar of these hand-held icons. You can talk, text, Tweet, Facebook, photograph, play music and games, wake up, go to sleep, find a place to eat, check on the weather — do almost anything you wish except maybe think for yourself with these wonderful rascals.
We can all rely on the latest technology to think, act and accomplish all the tasks we once learned to do. You know, carrying on a conversation, telling a story, writing a letter, communicating a message — actually making contact with another human being.
People I know are dying for human interaction. They just don’t know how to make the connection anymore. That’s why we need to return to the basics of communication.
It’s all about the destination or the journey’s end.
Answer the following question: If you were to drive from Salina to Kansas City, how would this trip be different from 1950?
You might respond the highways are much wider and smoother. Others would say today we have the interstate system and toll roads. Someone else might respond we have many more places to buy fuel and food — and these businesses stay open 24-hours each day.
All good answers, but what if I were to ask, what hasn’t changed?
The answer is the journey’s end, and that remains Kansas City.
Today, the latest and greatest technology is just around the corner waiting to be purchased. There will always be the next generation tablet, smartphone or laptop for those with the money or desire to possess them. We have been conditioned, or conditioned ourselves, to believe we must have these tools with us at all times and all places.
How can we live without them?
My question is how can we truly live with them?
That is the real challenge. We have become slaves to each new wave of technology; we replace our obsolete models with the latest, greatest version. At the same time, we trick ourselves into believing each new change will result in quicker communication.
Don’t bet on it.
Regardless of the technology we use, the journey’s end remains the same. Good letters, text messages, stories and communication that informs, reveals and motivates other human beings to action, not consternation and confusion.
Remember, it is not the communication tool that is necessary, it is the thought we hope to convey to others. After thinking about what we wish to communicate or the story we hope to convey, we write it, edit it, review the piece again and rewrite the final draft. Strive to do your best.
All around us are examples of great speeches, letters and broadcasts — the Gettysburg Address, the radio broadcast of the Hindenburg crash, FDR’s fireside chat, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself … ,” President Kennedy’s quest to land on the moon, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade … not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
These carefully chosen and crafted words had power and meaning. They described scenes, situations and events with riveting anticipation and spontaneity.
The main reason for their greatness and longevity is that no matter how plain and primitive the tools used to convey them, those who uttered these words never lost sight of the destination.
As we work with the latest technology, never forget this. After all, what good is the message if the recipient cannot understand and is not moved to action?
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwest Kansas,
his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.