That Question

February 17, 2011
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When we sit here and log onto Facebook, there is one particular phrase we see every time.

Now we may log on for a few hours, a few minutes, even a few seconds. We may not log on for a day, a week, a month or even a few months at a time and yet, this phrase remains the same. It is this very simple impersonal question which makes up the fundamental basis of the reality which we as individuals, we as groups, we as societies and we as different cultures perceive it.

What’s on your mind?

We sit there less than a second and decide what to do. We may rant over the un-eventfulness of our day, or the new relationship drama we are experiencing. We may fill out a status with an odd one statement, one sentence, one word status that sums up a day, a thought, a fleeting emotion, an appeal to yourself and to others. We may check to see what everyone else has said before we contribute to the consensus that yes, “it has been another God awful Monday.” Or we may simply drop a ‘like’ here, a comment there and vanish once again from the internet.

But are we really saying what we mean? Are we really communicating what’s on our minds?

Teachers, parents, friends and oftentimes the institution that is school, demand that we think. That we think deeply. That we form a bridge between ourselves and others of our own making, of our own words. That we in essence display some sort of cognitive recognition to what we are doing.

The rules are gone. The rules are void. The rules do not exist in this non-space, this cyber-space. Grammar does not matter, spelling doesn’t count. Formality and friendly conversation, insults and compliments blend together, merge to form a new pattern of thinking necessary to understand what it is someone means. There are no facial expressions or verbal cues to follow, simply lights and binary code.

So, are we really saying what’s on our minds?

The question appears casual. It seems straightforward and you learn to ignore it as time goes by. It holds no inflections, no hidden meaning in its words. But I argue it does. I argue that this may be one of the single most important questions a person will ever encounter in their lifetimes. I argue that this simple question can tell you far more about a person and yourself than you perhaps realize.

It can tell us what you value, what you believe, what you see as most important. It can tell us your general outlook on life, what kinds of activities you engage in. It can tell us what your favorite color is, how often you follow statistical trends, it can tell us who you are.

To some this maybe a scary thought, and to a certain extent, I agree. Yet, I think it is appropriate. An evolution appropriate to our surroundings. A person in Hong Kong can chat with a person form Dallas about the state of the Euro in international money exchanges. Two girls who speak Spanish can readily access the tools they need to translate something into Chinese or German or Aborigine.

The impact of technology is incalculable, yet, today I will challenge you, challenge you to do that. I challenge you to look at how often technology becomes a part of simple everyday activities. I challenge you to look beyond what you see. I challenge you to think. I challenge you to speak. And above all, I challenge you to tell me “What’s on your mind?”

Can you do it?

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Emiline! ^-^ said...
Feb. 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm
This is very well written and thought-provoking (even though I don't have Facebook, yet). 5-5 stars :)
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