David Greenspan: It’s time, it’s time to talk, not text

(Photo by Carol Highsmith, courtesy of the Library of Congress)

If we truly wish to address the challenges facing our community, our state and our nation – we must have the courage to take the first steps to talk, communicate and share ideas. Taking that first step can be the most challenging, but one that we must take if we want to make tomorrow better than today.

Unfortunately, free speech – on all sides of all issues, is under attack. At some point in our past, recent or long ago – or a combination of both – WE have lost respect and tolerance for one another.

WE, the collective we, have lost the skills and art to effectively communicate. It is generally believed and written by toolshero.com that there are seven C’s of communication:

  1. Completeness
  2. Concreteness
  3. Courtesy
  4. Correctness
  5. Clarity
  6. Consideration
  7. Conciseness

It is important that we understand how essential the third C of communication, Courtesy, truly is. Courtesy is defined as “the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others.”

So, where has courtesy gone? Why do so many believe that it is acceptable to treat others with such contempt or outright disdain?

In my opinion, the use and often misuse of technology is one of the contributing factors in our overall lack of empathy and compassion for others. Non-face to face, immediately distributed, methods of communication such as, texting, social media, tweeting, emails and other similar electronic forms of sharing thoughts and ideas have desensitized our population.

The lack of face to face interaction removes the interpersonal elements of human contact.  If society continues, as I believe it should and will, to engage in electronic methods of communications then we should employ the core fundamental values, of respect, tolerance and courtesy. We have experienced and are experiencing the decline in the exercise of these values in our everyday deportment with others.

Because of the increase use of technology which, by its design, is intended to expedite communication, has unintentionally produced an environment that does not support these values. If one is not physically present to see the impact of a text, tweet or an email, if one is not physically present to interpret the body language and other non-verbal ques of another, and if one is not offered the opportunity to respectfully, with tolerance and courtesy engage in oral or written dialogue then the communication falls short of a true conversation.

Often, it is the intent of the sender not to engage with the recipient – but to simply make a statement and move on leaving the recipient in the rearview mirror — or worse, continuing to communicate and persist in exemplifying disrespectful, discourteous, and intolerant behavior.

Many in our society have become very polarizing and consequently, we have become polarized. It appears that we have either voluntarily retreated to or involuntarily been forced to our “safe corners,” which most likely include social media, television, radio, podcasts, friends, groups, and associations that largely support the positions and points of view that we are most comfortable.

This in itself, is polarizing. 

If it is our intent to “be the change that you wish to see in the world” as quoted by Mahatma Gandhi, then it is incumbent upon each of us to start Talking and Not Texting. A wise gentleman once told me ten words that had a profound impact on my outlook on engagement, “if it is to be, it is up to me.” This can be amended to be pertinent to this discussion “if it is to be, it is up to US.” 

“US,” the collective us, should invest in good conversation. One that respects, tolerates and demonstrates courtesy to all, for all opinions, for all beliefs, for all perspectives. If we want a better tomorrow, it starts with “US,” it starts by “talking” and it must start today.

-State Representative David Greenspan, 16th Ohio House District

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