Many times here I find myself asking questions that seem to have no place; they might be important but they’re diverse and tend to cross over established boundaries into a sort of middle ground (see Notes One). I often wonder what it is that prevents this conversation from happening, and how far we can get without it.
It seems at times that we’re all simply talking at once, shouting one another down or refusing to listen to others’ concerns until we’ve addressed our own. Leading to conversations that never quite get started, as one topic stands against another in a sort of stalemate: if time’s tight we won’t cover both, so we discuss neither. As if ideas cannot co-exist and one has to emerge the winner, the most important.
And many issues are interconnected, so where do you start? Social cohesion is linked to education but also to media, to culture, to home life, to technology, to tradition and belief. Mental health may be connected with internet use and concerns over empathy and powerlessness in that sphere, but also with uncertainty over the future, seismic social shifts, and the psychological difficulty of finding your feet in it all.
Can a conversation begin to encompass these divergent aspects of modern life, or do we make a start but soon encounter a seemingly impassable bridge into a completely different area of expertise we feel unqualified to enter? In an era of specialisation, can we develop the oversight to confidently address all that needs to be talked about and drawn into a suitably cohesive solution?
And if reality is peopled with divergent paths, histories, experiences, and wounds are we only allowed to speak of our own (Note Two), or is there a way to respectfully rise above our differences and have those conversations that seem so urgent and important? Can we afford not to?
In a way, every topic and path is both important and challenging to understand: specialisation and personal experience matter in that they shape us and, in grappling with them, we develop greater knowledge and hopefully wisdom. But learning and experience take time, so pursuing one path comes at the cost of others; in which case, we need to be able to communicate in order to benefit from the wisdom others are offering.
Yet modern life moves at this pace where you have to react immediately, ride the wave of whatever conversation or trend you wish to be part of as yesterday’s conversation is already over. So many different threads, subcultures, generations apparently struggle to find points of common interest and respect; ploughing ahead with their interrelated, but unfortunately unrelated, concerns.
Can we rise above that resulting isolation and find ways to genuinely and powerfully connect? If modern communication stumbles at these divisive roadblocks, unable to sustain conversations that bridge the divides to speak out of a coherent enough sense of ‘the bigger picture’ to understand and judge what experts are able to offer us, then where are we headed?
Notes and References:
Note 1: Privacy and our online existence
Note 1: Anti-social behaviour & the young
Note 1: Media and responsibility
Note 1: Laws and lawlessness
Note 1: How many aren’t well represented?
Note 1: Learning to be human
Note 2: Talking through difficult topics
Related to this, Need to stand alone & think for ourselves spoke of the importance of finding our own feet.