Shaw famously said that the biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred.
And that’s where we get ourselves in trouble. Instead of actually communicating, doing the work of teaching others about who we are and what we need and what makes us tick, we’re merely acting. Symbolizing things. Going through the motions and expecting our messages to be received loud and clear, but the moment they’re not, we blame others for not understanding us.
Which is deeply unfair. Because most people barely understand themselves, much less what we’re trying to say.
And so, to be furious and enraged and bitter when others don’t get all of what we are, is a form of cruelty. It’s like saying to somebody, I’m angry with you because you didn’t realize something I thought.
Of course, there’s always mind reading technology. Cognitive neuroscientists who work for the military use something called an electroencephalogram, which is a test that detects electrical activity in a person’s brain using small, flat metal discs, or electrodes, attached to their scalp.
In their experiments, a soldier would sit with electrodes connected to his head and look at a screen flashing images at him. Without speaking or clicking, he’d silently count how many images popped up on the screen that fit into a certain category that he had chosen to follow.
And without telling anyone what he picked, the computer tracking his brain waves was able to tell which images he was following. Too cool!
But sadly, too costly and too complicated for civilian life. Oh well.
The point is, we have to be aware of the illusions that act as a replacement for understanding.
We have to stop expecting people to read our minds.
And we have to use a little more empathy and patience in the ways that we express ourselves.
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Are you still assuming other people are having the same experience you’re having?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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