Maybe you’ve seen it. A couple comes into a restaurant. They sit down and pull out their phones. Then they proceed to spend the entire time they are at the table looking at their phones and never speak a word to each other.
Or perhaps you’ve seen someone go up to the counter at the post office or up to the checker at the supermarket and never look up from the phone during the transaction.
I actually saw a photograph of a group of middle school students at an art museum. Every single one of them was looking down at their phone. Meanwhile, not only were they ignoring the masterpieces all around them, they were also ignoring each other.
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, phones were actually for talking to people. Now it seems that the preferable form of communication for most people is texting. While effective for communicating things like when and where to meet, as in “C u @ 7 at Moe’s,” it is not effective for relational interaction.
Actually speaking to someone enhances understanding. Why?
Because we pick up important vocal communication signals that we miss when we’re texting.
When we call someone we can tell right away if they sound glad to hear from us or like we’re interrupting something
Based on what we hear in their voice we might say, “You sound tired,” or “You sound great!” Are they happy or sad? Bored or excited? Do they respond quickly or are there awkward silences? We can ‘read between the lines’ based on what we hear in someone’s voice.
The Signals We Send
I had an experience many years ago that made me aware of the shortcomings of the printed word in conveying a person’s character. Two people I knew were interviewed for the same newspaper article. One of them I knew to be a kind and personable man. The other I knew to be arrogant and rather distant in his manner.
You guessed it. The nice guy came off sounding arrogant. The less pleasant fellow came off sounding like a gem. What was missing? Tone of voice. Inflection. The same sentence can mean many different things depending on how it is said.
What enhances communication even more are the signals we send when we converse in person. Things like body language, facial expression, and touch all add layers of meaning to our communication.
Are we backing away or leaning in? Crossing our arms defensively or holding them relaxed at our sides? Nodding our head yes, nodding our head no, or cocking our head questioningly?
Are we smiling or frowning?
Are we offering a hug, giving a pat on the back, putting a hand on the shoulder, or slapping high five?
But perhaps the most import of all forms of communication is eye contact. After all, the eyes have been called the window to the soul.
A Deeper Level
When you look someone in the eye there is a deep connection that is made. It’s something beyond words alone that allows us to understand one another at a deeper level. It is something profoundly human.
There is research now suggesting that our obsession and, in some cases, even addiction to our devices is eroding our ability to form healthy relationships. Empathy, for example, requires human touch, face-to-face interaction, and non-verbal communication. Electronic communication offers none of these things, thus making it challenging to develop an empathetic relationship with another person.
One study actually showed that children are now unable to accurately read how people are feeling in real life, a result of having more interaction with their phones than face-to-face interaction.
Songs For Healing and Hope
At Music for the Soul, one of our primary goals is to create songs for healing and hope; songs that help create connection or restore it where it has been lost.
With that in mind I’d like to invite you to listen today to a song called Look into My Eyes.
It’s about the potential for genuine interaction and connection in our relationships. I believe that some of the healing and hope we’re looking for is right in front of us.
Look into My Eyes
We’re texting past each other
We’re talking on the run
I can feel the distance
Bet I’m not the only one
Love and trust
But staring at these screens
Something’s lost in translation
Look into my eyes
The windows of my soul
You will see my heart
and all the things I want you to know
We all deserve attention
We long for deep connection
You have to set everything aside
and look into my eyes