I study communication in college. I am a part of the communication department. I’ve even been a teacher of sorts in the department. One day, I lectured on THEE. I don’t think it went too well. Maybe that’s a story for a blog on education or something.

The comm department (as we affectionately refer to it) is full of athletes. Why? Well, athletes are in college for other reasons than academics and the comm department has a reputation of being an easy ride. So, amidst the would-be journalists and film geeks are peppered very tall, muscly men who often have to leave class early to work out or run drills. They seem tired as well. You’ll often catch them having a nap during lectures on media law or Kenneth Burke.

Often, we’re faced with the question of what separates humans from the rest of life on this planet. And often, the answer is our ability to use sophisticated methods of communication. Between communication’s less-than-sterling reputation on college campuses and the fact that communication is literally everywhere in our societies, families, relationships, etc., I often get the sense that something big is being taken for granted here.

I think we simply don’t understand communication. Most of my classes revolve around someone’s theory of it or how it affects society or how to use it. But we’re rarely, if ever, confronted with real answers regarding what it is, how it came about, or its fundamental significance. I mean we talk about it, but we never come up with anything really. In fact, one class I’ve taken is simply piles of readings from dozens of communication philosophers attempting to grapple with these questions and none of them really get it figured out. In the end, you walk out of the class quite a bit more confused than you were going in.

Wiio’s laws point out how communication basically fails in practice most of the time. There are several laws, but the overarching point is: “Communication usually fails, except by accident.” Any of you out there who are married are probably intimately familiar with this concept.

Even THEE is currently a bit stumped when it comes to communication. Of all of the posted frameworks, communication is by far the most incomplete (however posting is ongoing). It cries out for someone, maybe you, to come along and work through it. What about you, Tom, you might ask? Yeah.. I wouldn’t even know where to start.

But if you take a step back into the Personal Endeavor framework, you can at least understand the significance of communication. We’ve talked about psychosocial reality (I discuss it in the blog, “Double Reality”). Well, communication is how you create this reality. It’s how humans have always created everything they’ve ever done. If you get to thinking about the sheer scope of that, it can be mind-boggling: everything from the seeds of civilization to our most sophisticated technologies. All of these things had to be communicated before they could come about.

We see that communication serves as a sort of bridge between our thoughts and ideas and the big world outside of our heads. We formulate an idea as a result of our willingness and purposes and when we turn it into words or images, it’s suddenly “out there,” outside of ourselves, waiting to be formed into something that becomes a part of the reality that we all share.

That being said, what does it mean for me? Now that we understand that communication is what created all of our most amazing achievements and our most heinous acts (ie. Goebbels propaganda campaign against Jews in WWII) then maybe it’s something we might take a little more seriously.

Ever heard the phrase: Choose your words carefully…

blog comments powered by Disqus