The lost art of communication

Published 29, Sep, 2017
Author // Michael Yoder

Michael Yoder: "More and more I believe our social isolation (and not just for poz folk) is a symptom of disassociation and disconnection."

The lost art of communication

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."  -- George Bernard Shaw

When I was young, in my 20s, we had no internet or Skype. We had party lines and dial phones or those fancy new push button phones that were all the rage. We didn't have texting or sexting, or Scruff or Grindr, or phones that were used solely for the purpose of taking self-absorbed portraits of our dinners or our faces with duck lips. No, we had much more...

We actually talked to each other.

I used to talk to people for hours on the phone, catching up on gossip, laughing and joking and meaningful conversations about what was going on in the world.

Now, I read articles and see statistics where people living with HIV are increasingly socially isolated and I'm not surprised. Our culture has changed to one where social media and emails have replaced getting together for coffee, talking on the phone or actually physically picking up a pen and paper and writing a letter.

Times change and I get that. Youth today don't remember a world without texts and smart phones, but older people are living in the same times. More and more I believe our social isolation (and not just for poz folk) is a symptom of disassociation and disconnection.

"... there's no inflection or facial expression when you read a text or email, there's no real connection between two people."

We don't talk anymore - it's too uncomfortable.

I have three phone chat friends now - they live in other cities. In my own town (Victoria) no one seems to like talking on the phone: they'd rather Facebook message or send emails. But there's no inflection or facial expression when you read a text or email, there's no real connection between two people.

I'm an introvert and becoming more so as I get older, which is admittedly a part of my own social isolation. I don't like going out at night, and I don't like crowds. This leaves me in a bind - I want to connect with people, but it seems there's little opportunity outside my few contacts. How to re-connect is a quandary to me.

I think that we as people living with HIV (and others) would truly benefit from getting off Twitter and Instagram and, however we manage it, go back to using the phone as a means of verbal communication and not a camera. It will never replace how technology dominates our lives, but it might just give us a sense of connection that we currently lack.

We can continue to use our thumbs and 140 characters to express ourselves, but we will never be truly connected as human beings if we cannot see the faces, hear the voices and touch the hands of those we care about and who care about us.

About the Author

Michael Yoder

Michael Yoder

Michael Yoder currently works with POZitively Connected, a project of Vancouver Island Persons Living with HIV AIDS Society. Positively Connected provides social connection and support to gay/bi men living with HIV. He has previously sat on the board of directors of the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS), and has been involved in the HIV/AIDS movement since 1987. He worked with CAS in development and writing of the One Foot Forward Series of self training modules for people living with HIV and other work. Michael is always available for writing work, workshop development/presentation as well as public speaking.

Michael's social media connections are @michaely1961 on twitter and on Facebook here.