Communication is two things: for one, it's an awfully long word. Five whole syllables. Communication is also a street. I know this because I have heard at least 18 people say "communication is a two-way street." I object to this analogy. The way I see it, communication can be anywhere from a one-way street to O'Hare International Airport. As we all know, airport terminals can have any number of different directions, or "ways." Sometimes as many as 17,800, but never less than 96.
If you are still insisting that communication is only a two-way street, then ask yourself, "Self, have I ever been in any of the following situations:
1) listening to the radio
2) on a bus full of junior highers
?" I think these situations prove that communication can be a street of almost infinitely variable ways. If I knew anything about math, I might define the set W of possible communication ways as being a subset of whole numbers such that W > 0. But I really don't know anything about math, so just forget I mentioned it.
Now that we have shown that limiting communication to two ways is erroneous, let's look at the "street" aspect. What is a street? Let's consider some of the things which occur on a street:
1) vehicles and pedestrians travel from Point A to Point B
5) drug trafficking
Now, how does this apply to communication? Presumedly, the analogy attempts to show that a vehicle traveling from Point A to Point B is the same as meaning being transferred from Person A to Person B. So that makes sense.
What about accidents? We've all seen these, like when several people begin to speak at the same time, or when someone says something insulting about Karl before realizing that Karl is standing behind them. Oops.
On to roadkill. Here we have cases of animals trying to cross the street perpendicular to the flow of traffic. How does this apply to communication? I have no idea, but Sue Mi Kim of Knoxville, TN has postulated a theory that the animals represent "the random thoughts that interrupt your current flow (of 'traffic' if you will) and sometimes get stuck under the wheels and make a mess." This is a perfectly plausible theory which deserves further testing.
And construction? Maybe we could make an analogy for someone unable to speak because they're currently chewing food. Although it certainly delays communication, in the long term it provides the person with additional energy for improved communication at a later time. But that analogy is a stretch and we both know it.
And what about drug trafficking? And other shady activites that occur on streets? If communication is a street, it must certainly involve the buying and selling of crack cocaine, and that inclines me to give up the idea of communicating altogether.
As we can see, the analogy of communication being a street is inadequate, because we all know communication does not necessarily include peddling pot.
What, then, is communication? We realize it can have any number of ways. What are some things with infinitely variable ways, to which we could compare communication, that do not involve illegal activities?
Perhaps communication is an ocean. Fish travel from Point A to Point B, but there are never any collisions, unless Fish A attacks or eats Fish B.
No, an ocean doesn't work, because how do we account for sunken ships, oil spills, and surfing?
It could be that communication is a bunch of carbon tubes, down which scientists send Buckyballs from Point A to Point B. But who really cares?
Communication must, in fact, be a mystery akin to love, the Bermuda Triangle, and unpaired socks. Nothing else is like it, and so to understand it better we must simply do it more, do it further, do it in new ways.
Therefore, I am declaring an International Communications Experiment. All people of all nations must now communicate in new ways, and report back to the Headquarters of the Experiment -- me. Try new mediums of communication, like food. Try new intended recipients for your communiques, like someone from Poland, an insect, or some type of plant. Test the number of communication ways. See if it's possible to have 0-way communication. See if you can interlink the ways, and have 100 ways but with only a handful of people. See if you can communicate with extraterrestrials. Try communicating backwards, sideways, and inside out. The possibilities are endless. Or, if not endless, vastly unexplored.
The next time someone tells you "Communication is a two-way street", interrupt whoever it is and ask "do you ever watch TV?" The person will probably say "yes" and not have a clue what you mean, because TV rots your mind. So never mind, that was a terrible question. Instead, ask, "Have you ever been on a bus full of junior highers?" If they haven't, ask them if they've been to the airport. If they haven't even done that, check and make sure the person is not a mannikin or statue. (If it is, congratulations! You have successfully carried on 0-way communication!) If they still don't understand, tell them to read this article, which would have had a great pithy ending except I just got a call from my friend Hyanru. He's a Martian.
© 1998-2021 Zach Bardon
Last modified 7.19.2019