“4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.” James 3:4-5
“Do not feed the trolls.” Tera Ertz
With the rise of social media, the ability to communicate has increased exponentially. We can connect with people from around the country and around the globe. We have the capacity to reach hundreds or even thousands of people with a few keystrokes. We spend an inordinate amount of time, blogging, posting, tweeting, commenting and networking. News sites, polling companies, and even our Facebook friends tell us that our voices NEED to be heard. We are encouraged to speak our minds, tell the world what we think, exercise our First amendment rights!
But, there are some simple truths we have failed to take into account. Communication consists of more than just blurting out whatever words pop into our heads. It requires more than passing around pictures with catchy phrases on them. To be heard is not to be understood. To speak is not to communicate. And there are only 24 hours in a day. If we are going to use so many of them in an effort to communicate with the world around us, to speak on issues we are passionate about, knowledgeable about, and problems we all face that need cooperative efforts to address them, wouldn’t it be a good idea to learn to do so effectively?
The trend in social media, as well as the new media, these last few years has been toward raucous anger, brow beating, and finger pointing. We either sit in the echo chamber of those who agree with us on everything, or we press forward into the arena of the “enemy” and confront the opponents ideas and thoughts. The result is ever increasing polarization, anger, and fatigue. The problems we set out to solve are still present and growing. The constant conflict comes between friends, family and loved ones. We get so wrapped up in expressing our opinion, reinforced by the message that our voice must be heard, that we fall for the trap of feeding into the same old arguments with the same old people whose only intent is to disrupt and enrage.
For communication to be effective, we need to look at a few key areas. This series will cover some of the basics that we seek to answer in any informative writing:
- Why are we talking?
- What are we trying to communicate?
- Who is our audience?
- Where are we speaking?
- When are we speaking?
- How are we speaking?
- Perhaps most importantly of all Listening
I was blessed with the opportunity to take a Communications crash course this past May. It is amazing how getting back to the basics of communicating effectively can lift our spirits, give us new purpose, and help us change the world. I pray you will join me in this exploration over the next few days. Be blessed and be a blessing.
To make your own cool pic of what’s on your mind (the picture above) check out Wordle.net
Tera Ertz is the founder of Hope and Change Ministries, author of God Talk: The Beginning, mother of five, and a child of God. You can find her on Facebook, or subscribe to Hope and Change Ministries or Contagious Transformations to keep up with the latest.