Communication

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From the first forms of interactions, such as tigers urinating to mark their territory, to our latest forms of communications, such as intricately designed mobile phones that transfer messages with the click of a button, communication has always been the basis of all life organisms. One of the most complex branches of our social world, it is the sole purpose that today we, humans, have advanced insurmountably through the course of time. It is beautiful, the diverse methods of interactions from one organism to another, and yet a social hazard if overused. It is vital to survive, and yet can cause grief, anger, fear, and corrosive hatred. In other words, is a mixed blessing, and is to be used with excessive caution, like everything else in our cosmos.

What is communication? Simply, it is the interaction between one organism and another. There are numerous forms of communications. A common misconception is that humans have invented numerous ways of communications. Contrarily, there are only four ways of communication; markings/symbols, direct/indirect gesticulations, oral communication, and perhaps the most difficult form to comprehend, signals. Humans have evolved these basic methods into what we call modern technology. Let’s view each form of communication separately in depth.

Markings and symbols are perhaps our most commonly used form of communication when communicating without eye contact. Earlier, you read how tigers urinate mark their territory. Through the use of “tiger symbols”, the tiger has stated, “This is my territory. Enter at your own risk.” Earlier forms of humans, such as cavemen, drew pictures on walls of caves to indicate the story of their life, or to simply let others know if they had gone hunting, fishing, etc. Slowly, from there, humans have picked up. Pictographs, used by ancient Egyptians, and then ink quills used in medieval times, and today, thousands and thousands of languages. Email, texting, and postal services are the latest evolutions of the marking/symbol form of communication. So now ask yourself this; what are pictures, pictographs, and written languages? Irrefutably, you can claim that they are, indeed, the same thing as the mark made by tiger urination. Of course, who wouldn’t prefer our current technology to ink quills? They expedite the process of sending messages to others, and make it easier by far to reach help if needed. Nonetheless, there are always people who burst the bubble of happiness initially created by new technology. Blackmail is a well-known form of abused communication, used to frighten people into usually paying money. Cyberbullies send messages and threats via electronic devices that have often led to suicide. By sending messages online, they are able to remain hidden, creating an air of mystery. Can’t you see that as technological communication advances, the threat to society also increases correspondingly?

Another form of communication involves gesticulations, or body language. Every day, every minute, you send surprisingly large amounts of messages into the world around you using your body. This is known as body language. Some signs are more obvious than others, but at the end, all of them can be both helpful and dangerous. When your friend is giving a speech, and you give him/her a thumbs up, it will encourage that person, enhancing the friendship. Inversely, if you tap your foot incessantly, or accidentally yawn, your friend will be immensely discouraged, ruining bonds of friendship. Negative body language, although difficult to control, is a major threat to yourself, as it can sever ties from what should’ve been a healthy, salubrious relationship with society. Those of us who have read Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix are familiar with the term, Legillimency. Simply put, Legillimency is magical mind reading, and is thought to be impossible. But is it? We may not be able to read minds at will, but we can read body language. For instance, if you are giving a presentation, and the teacher’s arms are folded, it usually indicates disapproval; impatience, or confusion with your information. If a person looks down when they are about to tell you something, you can infer that they are about to confess a mistake they made. Training your eyes to pick up on such feeble messages can majorly impact your view of societal thinking, and allow you to “read other peoples’ minds”. Those of us who have read Harry Potter are also familiar with the term Occlumency, or preventing Legillimency. The real life connection to Occlumency lies within the definition itself; controlling your own body language to send out the signals you want. Although colossally difficult, it is a useful skill to possess. It requires a decent amount of background knowledge on body language, but it can certainly come in handy. For instance, when the teacher is talking to you, lean towards her slightly to indicate that you are interested in what (s)he has to say. “Real life Occlumency” can earn you a better name whoever you are, wherever you live. Body language. If used correctly, it can guide you to become a very successful person.

The third form of communication is oral communication, or the use of your mouth to communicate. When we speak to one another, or when a lion roars to another lion, oral, or verbal, communication has just taken place. Verbal communication is quite essential, not only to let other people know what you are thinking, but also if you are in danger (you wouldn’t want to write a letter if being pursued by an angry mob of thieves!). Humans have progressed quite a bit with oral communication technology. Ever wondered how a marathon got its name? Centuries ago, a messenger sprinted 26.2 miles from Athens, Greece to a city named Marathon. He shouted, “The war is over!” before collapsing. How happy would he have been if Alexander Graham Bell had already invented the telephone, so he could simply make a phone call to the Marathon’s local government. Unfortunately humans have also negatively tampered with verbal communication. Discouraging statements, rumors and gossip, and threatening phone calls are just few of hundreds of ways humans have abused the gift of speech. We should know our “oral limits” and only use oral communication if no one suffers from it. Why not utilize our gift in a dignified manner?

Ultimately, the most complex of the lot is signal communication. Signal communications aren’t used to communicate from organism to organism. Rather it is used from machine to machine, or inside the human body. Suppose you want to program a robot. When you turn on a television, the remote communicates and gives instructions to the television by sending a radio signal, which is decoded and converted into symbol communication (pictures) and verbal communication. When you touch steaming water, your pain receptors in your hand send signals to your brain, and you feel pain. Because it is not usually observable, signal communications are often neglected, and are overridden by more popular forms of communications, such as verbal and symbols. Yet, there is legitimite evidence that signal communication exists, and that it is perhaps the most vital form of communication of the four (i.e. If you couldn’t feel pain, and you got seriously injured, who knows what will happen?). People have given a lot of attention to signals on a biological and technological scale, but now you could be the first to give it importance on a sociological scale!

The intricate art of communication is an immense subject. This essay barely even scratched the surface of this vast topic. Communication is so useful, and yet so dangerous. If you don’t control it properly, it can damage your entire life, but if you utilize it correctly, you could really go far. Four forms; each with its own tale to tell, purposes to serve, and poisons to give out. Although humans may never cover the entire universe of communication, we can still attempt to start the journey. Just like you can’t enjoy a game without understanding its rules, or marvel an artwork without knowing what to look for, you can’t truly cherish our social world without understanding its rules. We can start by observing how communication impacts our daily lives.





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