misfortunes of being misunderstood limitations of cmn

Empty Muni

We’ve become quite good at succinct and stunted conversations; ones that end before they really begin.

We take being understood for granted. Most of the time, we speak efficiently with yes or no answers and oddly, they suffice. It’s easy to speak in 140 characters or less because it’s easily digested. You might say that what we once called small talk has taken the place of real conversations and these real conversations have moved, to a large extent, out of the public sphere and into our private lives – still, sparingly so. We assume that because we understand something a certain way, that others should too. In reality, the more complex your thoughts or message, the more you must explain and elaborate. These are the limits of communication.

You simply cannot convey a complicated message and expect others to understand. Most of us slash, cut, and eliminate words until we reach the core of it all, but this effectively reduces what we wanted to say to a mere ghost image – a reflection, of what we wanted. So perhaps you’re well-versed on twitter, take stunning photographs on instagram, and have mastered the hashtag down to its horizontal lines, but what message have you sent in the process? Is it the one that you intended? Without guidance, human minds fill in blanks according their own world-views. And when you fail to reach an common understanding through no fault of either party, the message has become irrelevant of its own accord.

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right vs. wrong

As a society, why do we think in such polar terms? Psychology teaches us that we can often be primed into viewing things as black and white (sometimes even black vs. white), us vs. them, and right vs. wrong. Even when we argue, most of us “agree to disagree”, which implies that no compromise has been really reached, since you’re still disagreeing – two sides at a standstill. In war and in debates, especially when our morals or beliefs are attacked, we believe “the other side” is out to get us. When we think in this way, we leave out a large majority of people who “float” between sides. This is echoed in the established American political parties, with Republicans vs. Democrats. We egg on the differences and add drama to them, just as we do with sports teams. It’s the government against us. The authorities against us. The rich vs. the poor. Right vs. wrong.

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50+ Shades of Gray

This has been written about over and over on numerous blogs. Heck, I’ve written about it once or twice. It’s far from a new idea. I remember once, over a year ago, a friend near and dear to me told me that right and wrong were merely constructs and perspective was important. She was adamant and I couldn’t figure out why. After thinking long and hard that night, I came to the sudden realization that perspectives weren’t just important, they pretty much meant everything. I incorporated it into my daily life. It became something of a motto for me. If you’ve read any of my posts, you’d know that I stress this fact all the time.

After reading what people have to say on the topic, I’ve realized that nothing is ever simple. Sure, we would love for things to be simple. Seems to me that we’re more drawn to simple things in terms of aesthetics, design, and usability because our lives are becoming increasingly complex. Hence the shift to simple website design and even simpler business models. “Keep it simple, stupid” definitely springs to mind. The technology that powers our everyday devices are deceivingly complex for the simple mind. We walk around looking for simplicity, but that’s not really how most of us live our lives. If only things were black and white.

There’s a whole spectrum of gray in between black and white. The simple act of decision-making is not binary. When I go to Philz for coffee, I can opt for dozens of roasts, blends, and sweetening options. How is that simple? When I’m walking to the bus am I supposed to cross 46th Ave. first or Judah St. first? Or perhaps I should walk diagonally and straddle both. That’s the gray.Shades of Gray

Same thing applies to the decisions and choices you make in life. I remember thinking that there is hardly ever a single absolute cause of something. All of the “stars had to align” if you will, and that is one hell of a scary thought; I mean to think that my choices are only effective when all sorts of variables fall into place. It’s a wonder we ever get anything done. That’s the beauty of life though.

And now, because of the wise words of many, I find myself living in the gray and staying out of the black and white. Black and white is so proper – it’s so stale and boring. Gray is exciting, less murky, offers clarity, and is evolving. I prefer dynamic over static. I live in the gray because that way I can overcome expectations, judgments, and predictability. I’ve come to expect no expectations for myself and others. Above all, I’m happy and living simply. Happiness for me is 50+ shades of gray.

Video

Shattering Assumptions

After I watched this brief video, I found myself thinking about assumptions, photography, and perspectives. I love when things make me think and I try to read a lot for that purpose and surround myself with thinkers. Nothing quite beats discovering unique perspectives, especially if they are drastically different than your own. Photography is very much perspective based and Aaron does a great job talking about shattering assumptions. Photographing people, things, objects, and places is all about perspective in the artistic sense and in the emotional sense. We’re being taken on an adventure.

Quote

Stephen R. Covey

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are — or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms.

-Stephen R. Covey

What do I take away from this quote? It’s all about perspectives. What we bring to the world is a reflection of us, so always choose your words wisely and think before you speak. When we speak, we’re not being objective; we never are. It’s always tainted and marred by our own perspectives. Keep that in mind every time someone says something to you or every time you say something to another.

Communication

I spent a lot of my college years neglecting my studies. I wasn’t the brightest bulb in the room, but at least I was functional. I wasn’t bored by the topics I studied – it just wasn’t captivating enough for me. Applied studies and the study of theory are two different animals and I preferred the former. Applied: I took it to mean practical and applicable to me immediately, not in some far off conversation that might or might not take place in the future. I wanted to learn about things that were happening in the present. The past is wonderful and the future is glorious, but the present is the source of all. It connects the past with the future. Without the present, things would just be confusing.

I keep a small library of references, humorous readings, and works of nonfiction. I’m not much of a fiction reader – I prefer films and television shows for that kind of thing. I do, however, collect nonfiction. I like to peruse them at my own leisure and look in them for sound advice. Whenever I run across a problem or internal conflict, I first consult with myself, then with my journal, and finally to my limited library. I wish I could afford more books, but I spend all of my money on photography equipment, pens, notebooks, food, and coffee. Perhaps one day, I’ll forgo my own attempts at content creation and instead purchase already created content.

This post was sparked by my discovery of a college textbook that I still have on my shelf. It was a required textbook in my Group Communications class at UC Davis. It’s a collection of research papers, but ones that have real-life consequences. Studies in Applied Interpersonal Communication – edited by Michael T. Motley. I originally saw it as nothing more than an assignment. Do a presentation on this chapter with your group and you will be graded on these things – blah blah blah so on and so forth. Thankfully, I kept the book

Interpersonal communication enriches our lives and touches each and every one of us. There are “right” ways of doing it and “wrong” ways of doing it. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that communication is all around us because that is who we are as nature’s creations. We were born social. Even the lack of verbal, oral, or written communication tells us something, just as silence is a message in and of itself. Back to the book – I’m re-reading several chapters closely because I want to learn. I want to improve the way I send my messages and interact with people. I’ve had troubles with relationships in the past and I want some hints and pointers on how to remedy those types of situations. I’m an idea person and this book is full of wonderful ideas. I don’t have to follow it to the letter, but I can use those ideas and put them to the test on my own. The research has been conducted and the results are in, but it’s never as easy as THIS IS THE SOLUTION. It is always – this is a possible solution. So here I am, scanning the pages, looking for ways to make my life a little more wonderful – not by changing myself, but by shifting my perspective.

Time

Time is a funny thing. Sometimes it passes slowly and sometimes there just isn’t enough of it. Like most things, time is relative. It’s also hard to describe or talk about. We try our hardest to quantify it as best we can and we standardize our units of measuring it so we can all understand it. From a philosophical and theoretical standpoint, the way time is viewed is entirely up to the viewer.

I remember asking a few of my friends how they viewed time. It was very, very difficult. They didn’t know what I was talking about. I don’t think we’re programmed to think about time in any great detail. I’m having a hard time coming up with ways to describe it. I asked my friends how they planned ahead. Did they do it in minutes? Seconds? Days? Years? I came to realize that, if anything, the way we perceive time is a reflection of our personalities. Some of us are incapable of planning so far ahead and yet some of must.

I don’t think I’m writing with any kind of a point in mind. I’m just exploring it. I have more questions than answers and I believe it’s healthy to delve into the subject. There are times when I wish there was more time to accomplish what I want. I want to do so much, but time always gets in the way. If only we didn’t need to sleep. That would afford me with an eternity to do what I wanted. My thought processes would be uninterrupted. It’s too bad that it’s all wishful thinking at this point.