It’s not going so good. But then, long-time, or as the kids say these days, ‘OG’ Of Opinions readers will know, I hardly ever talk to you if I’m feeling fantastic. No, this is the brand here, moaning, and it’s what you came for. What you pay for with your time, energy and brain power. You rely on my consistent self-pitying, and with what the world has been for months, we could all do with some reliability.
However, what is equally part of my brand, if not more definitive of who I am, is communication. Whether you’ve met me or not, known me for two minutes or twenty years, seen me as a shy, awkward mess retreating to a corner at a party, one of the top five, nay, three things you’d say to describe me is, “this girl likes to talk.” She writes essays for text messages. If you’re working together on a project that requires spontaneous decision-making, she’s probably thinking aloud with you in what seems like a conversation as she comes up with, and dismisses most of, at least, ten possible solutions. She flirts, and she’s good at it, but then, she flirts with aunts and grandmothers and a lot of people she has no sexual interest in. You wonder, can someone who talks so much, to almost everybody, even listen, yet alone remember anything you said to her five minutes ago? But, she does, because she is endlessly curious, asking you a LOT of questions and picking up on your non-verbal cues as well. She’ll come and surprise you with something you had said five days or five years ago and well, your mind will be blown.
I seem to be tooting my own horn here, but that is not the point of this blog post. If you’re an OG reader, or a friend that I catch up with irrespective of blogging, you won’t be surprised with most of this information even if we’ve never met. The above, however, is external. One of several things that I’ve realised in isolation is how much I need communication. How much I need to just to talk to people I meet everyday, whether they be strangers, acquaintances or ‘close’ people. How much I need to just smile and nod at someone I exchange maybe twenty words with in a year. Even if I do run into them, neither of us can even see each other smile now, and we have to make do with the laughter in our voices to express our genuine pleasure in running in to each other.
And, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been bored and even annoyed by video calls since, I don’t know, two months now? I mostly can’t be bothered in making myself look presentable, I turn off ‘video’ mode if I can anyway, and it just never seems real. Sure, I’d made video calls all the time before, but it never had a sense of desperation. I never felt, especially when talking to family, that I didn’t know when we’ll meet again. I miss the ability to promise, to anticipate. And I am the sort of person who sticks to plans, who follows up and yeah, I’ve also been going slightly mad at not being able to plan things anymore. But, that’s subject for another blog post.
I try to make do. With video or even phone call communication, you don’t get any non-verbal cues as such to get an overall idea of what you’re trying to communicate to each other. You also, due to bad network, don’t even get to hear everything clearly. So, I text more than usual, both in frequency and length. But, that doesn’t aid effective communication either. So many discussions are also on hold for when I shall meet the other party “in person.” Will the urgency or even perspective be the same when we do, if we at all get to anyway? Hey, I am all for thinking things through, taking your time etc. And especially with a couple of people I’m mad at, I even like how I’ve had time to cool down and shift my ‘hurt’ energy to something else. Just like a piece of music would not work without the right, creative balance between notes and rests, communication can also benefit from, to quote Alison Krauss, “when you say nothing at all.”
But, I still need it. I often tell myself, why don’t you start blogging again? You definitely have the time for it now. If you’re going to be all ‘social media optimization’ about it, then people are more likely to read you because they have more time too, and some of the things almost everyone is experiencing for the past four months are right up your street. There’s nothing much novel about this anyway because, being a germaphobe and a hypochondriac, you always have hand wash and hand sanitizer in your bag or about you all year round. You’re anyway not too fond of touching people you aren’t close to and a big fan of verbal greetings such as “Hi” and “Nice to meet you” and leaving it at that.
However, even writing this makes me nervous because though the above paragraph is for comedic purposes, I still find myself unable to joke about what has been going on for over six months. Nothing allays my confusion, fears and anger and normally what would have helped is going out and meeting a person I love, catching a movie and some good food and well, can’t do that. Can’t even talk properly, can’t even communicate with the entirety of my being and expect that back. You might say people made do with letters back in the day, but can you honestly say people write letters in the same manner now? And what about all our communications where we couldn’t write letters, or even text? I didn’t realise before how much I need my twenty second interaction with the person who attends to the lift/elevator in the building, or the teller at the bank. or who helps me out at the grocery store. I won’t claim to be an absolute saint who knows all their names and their lives (or that they know mine). I’m not sure everyone is interested in revealing that much information about themselves either. But, I miss being my normal, communicative self. I depend on these interactions for my own well-being, without often realising it.
I need to expend this energy of being genuinely interactive with people because this is who I am. My job also requires me to talk to people a lot, on a daily basis, and you can tell how dissatisfied I am with the only part I enjoy about it normally. I appreciate writing as communication, whether they be emails or messages. Or even the blog post which, as I’ve said before, lets me have my say about anything that crosses that overactive brain of mine without having to worry whether anyone will listen, let alone care to understand. But, it’s just not the same. I need that oxytocin I get, and maybe the other person gets it too, when we meet, laugh, crack a joke and feel good about ourselves because we tried to make someone else feel good. Writing maybe powerful, and video/phone calls almost close to the real thing, but it just ain’t the same.
There was some trouble at work a while back and, naturally, it caused me to be in a bit of a bad mood. A senior colleague who tried to comfort me said that laughter was my “brand icon.” Isn’t it wonderful when someone says something like that about you? I was still too pissed at the time to be thinking about laughing, but if that is what people think about me, I could die happy. And while most of you have never seen/heard me laugh, I really wish it is something we could do together, once we come out on the other side of this. Even if it is on ****** Instagram Live which, as you can tell, isn’t really something I’m into right now.
What do you miss most about your ordinary, everyday communications?