Good communication is an art

By Linda Harley, Graduate Student Body President

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, SecondLife, YouTube, Skype, iPhone, Kindle, TSquare, BuzzPort, Laptops, Remote Controls, blogs, texting, email… In today’s age of technological advancements our generation has grown accustomed to instant information. You can instantly talk to family halfway around the world for free through Skype.

You can instantly see baby pictures of your best friend’s 3 year-old on Facebook. You can follow the stock market and check tomorrow’s weather, while making a call on your iPhone. With all of this access to information at the tip of our fingers, have we lost the art of communication?

These tools are so alluring and popular because they provide immediate gratification and access to information about anything you can imagine. However, they are only tools and unless treated with care can be problematic and even dangerous.

For example, the person who was twittering while someone was breaking into their house instead of calling the police may have lost a sense of what communication should be for. A little common sense will keep you out of this extreme situation, but do not be lulled into believing that you can share everything with the world and then expect to be safe.

With all of this technology at our disposal, why then is it still necessary to go into a classroom and listen to a professor lecture?

This form of communication is vital to learning as it involves all of the senses. You hear the information, see the solutions, write down the notes and even smell the marker as the professor solves the differential equation on the white board.

Your senses help you to form memories and impressions of events that last longer than what can be screened in a steady flow of information to you over the Internet. Personal interaction is crucial to forming relationships and good communication skills.

When was the last time you had supper with your family without the television on? When was the last time you were in a meeting and there wasn’t someone with a laptop checking email? When was the last time you had the complete attention of a friend that had all the time in the world to sit and listen to you?

Have we grown so immune to hearing that we have forgotten what it means to listen? Talking with your friends and listening to what they have to say can never be replaced by technology, as one of the deepest desires that we all share is the need for someone to care enough to stop and honestly listen what we have to say.

As kids we would always hear “think before you speak” or “you have two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak”.

Good communication comes with practice. You need to learn how to listen and that you need time to understand the heart of the matter before drawing conclusions and speaking. This is not an instant process nor is there a formula you can apply to optimize the outcome.

No, it comes from stumbling over your lips, sticking your foot in your mouth, taking a deep breath, apologizing and starting over in the hopes to do better. This is something that technology cannot teach you.

As students we can get so wrapped up in running laboratory experiments, reading textbooks, solving problems, writing papers and research that we do not take our noses out of the computer long enough to smell the roses. Tech has so much more to offer than just an amazing education.

Go sailing with your friends, join the bowling team, play flag-football with your roommates, help with a community service projects, cheer at the football game against Georgia, try out the food at Culture Fest and get out there and enjoy what the activity Fee that you pay every semester goes towards making these events possible, and therefore it is up to you to get the most out of it. Funding is available to you through the SGA.

My challenge to you is to join at least one organization on campus and participate in the amazing events that are offered, so that next time someone checks your facebook, they will see photos of you having a fantastic time with your friends.

Communication is an art that is mastered over time, so be patient and take every opportunity to learn.