Words are powerful. We need them in order to communicate verbally. They are an expression of what we feel, what we perceive and what we hear. Personally, I see words as defining images creating a world of vibrant colour. A few letters strung together can describe our wonderful world, be it internal or external. How amazing is that!
Are we losing the ability to communicate verbally? Are we reducing the written word to like and love and wow and feeling sad and angry – using a whole range of emojis to express our feelings. Will our grandchildren reduce sentences to expressions of one or two words? However, my 5 year old grand-daughter on sending me a mixture of emojis, felt it necessary to also send a voice message explaining why the sad emoji was included. Perhaps, our verbal communication is just in a state of flux and will evolve majestically.
I wonder if the next generation won’t know how to communicate verbally, or indeed know how to look someone in the eye. Will they be born with elongated thumbs enabling them to tap even faster on keyboards? Will the curriculum include classes on how to make eye contact? If so, the idiom – ‘see eye to eye’ will take on a whole new meaning.
I marvel when I see my grandchildren using IPhones. The young generation are ‘tech savvy, digital natives’. When one of our granddaughters was 2 years old our skype would ring and she would appear on the screen. She didn’t talk to us, just carried on playing. It was wonderful but also quite surreal. Reaching out digitally across the oceans she invited her grandparents into heworld.
In order to communicate we need to understand what is required, and have the ability to put that understanding into action. The introduction of computers into the workplace in the 80’s put many a brain-cell into overdrive.
Using a computer back in yonder days meant double work as management didn’t trust the mega-machines to save anything so we continued to use the ‘pen’ also. Everything was F-ed, literally (no pun intended). F12, F3, F5. I often uttered the words – ‘5,4,3,2,1, and we have take-off. My computer is now in orbit. Oh, Fu-nct, my screen has gone blank.’
Then wonder of wonders the mouse was introduced. He or she came on a lead and was plugged in and ran in circles trying to keep up with the script on the screen. I’m surprised animal rights didn’t protest.
Seriously though the mouse was a kind of oval-shaped lump of plastic with little runners underneath (not Nike or Reebok). Perhaps I should say wheels. We were given time to learn how to use this yoke.
To those of you who are not familiar with the word ‘Yoke’ it’s an Irish term which covers any word you can’t remember and yet everyone knows what you mean. ‘Pass the yoke’. They do. Irish people are born with this word pre-programmed in their brains.
Many weeks of training and we all became proficient with the ‘mouse’. However, one of my colleagues tried to swipe the mouse across the screen – to no avail. I assume her brain cells were screaming this is the way to do it. No mouse needed. Just swipe. She was ahead of her time and should have been promoted to the high echelons of the technical team.
Having a problem with an ATM machine one day I rang the technical team. I had already done the usual checks. His advice was – ‘blow on it.’ I asked him if he was serious? He was. Apparently the machine innards are sensitive to dust. I blew on it and Hey Presto lights flickered, and all was well. Money spewed out once again.
Another colleague spent ages trying to get her computer to work. Exasperated, she called in the technician. He reached down and plugged it into the wall socket and left the room without a word.
WHEN HEARING DESERTS YOU
Reaching 50 was a life-changing experience for me in many ways. I assumed that less clarity with my hearing was due to a neck injury and tinnitus. Weekly sessions of physio kept me on track, or so I believed. Enjoying a new career I was passionate about had a few hiccups. The right hand side of my headset was not working and I hounded the technician. He was a patient man as this continued for some time.
My physio suggested that I should get help from an occupational therapist. However, this was impossible as I needed the company’s agreement, even though I offered to pay the cost myself. My heart goes out to people in the workplace who struggle with any kind of disability. From the research I have done we have a long way to go.
Only years after I left the company I discovered I was profoundly deaf in my right ear, and rapidly losing hearing ability in my left ear. As I discovered, this is one problem that won’t go away by ignoring it.
Loss of hearing can be quite traumatic. No matter how intently you concentrate you don’t always hear what is being said, resulting in a pained expression and intense headache. People shout assuming this will help. No! Please don’t. It only distorts the words you’re trying to hear even more. Ironically loud noises become louder whilst your capability of hearing normal speech reduces. I rely on lip reading. However, covid-masked faces have left me struggling in a world of misunderstanding and a reluctance to engage socially. And I avoid phone conversations as after a few words I’m muddled or have lost the plot. Drowning in a stream of words and trying to grasp the words which I think are right is not much fun.
Unfortunately, my hearing aid is not as effective as I would like and I still struggle to hear complete sentences. My brain is constantly trying to play catch-up as I focus on the sounds I can hear, attempting to make them into coherent words and sentences, inevitably leaving me with a tension headache, and a nasty facial expression that would permanently end all toddler tantrums and teenage backchat.
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The offer of a cochlear implant has sent me into a frenzy of research trying to find something that doesn’t involve surgery, batteries, or processors. There is no international sign language which leaves me in a bit of a quandary.
Talking of which, I watched a friend communicating with her son who has been deaf since birth. The speed at which their fingers were moving made me ask her jokingly if they were arguing. They were. Amusing for me, but perhaps not for them.
Perhaps it’s time for me to create my own personal form of communication using facial expressions, intercepted with the word yoke. Eyebrow twitching. Lip curling. Brow raising. Real smile. Fake smile. Death stare.
- All toddlers already know the strength of shaking their heads in a negative fashion, stamping their feet and emitting ferocious roars. Shall I resort to that? Note to self. Take lessons from my youngest grandchild. Also, take lessons from teenage grandchild on effective eye rolling and facial facial expressions to denote boredom, disgust and all manner of non-verbal communication. I
- It’s time for me to create facial emojis that will rock the world and improve my communication skills. Hear! Hear! I’m Hear!
Read my post on – Teen back chat
I have written two novels available on Amazon