Home‎ > ‎Community‎ > ‎

Thinking about talk (1)

My parents were reserved people. We were taught that part of being polite and respectful was that you shared with people on a need to know basis. Over sharing in regard to personal matters was considered unwise and lacking in restraint. Most of all, it was inconsiderate because it imposed upon the listener. Most people were not interested in the intimate details of our lives and would be uncomfortable with us sharing such information. 
    "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint," (Proverbs 17:27).
My parents were by no means unique in this regard. The prevailing culture of the time (the sixties and seventies), was definitely toward discretion. That’s why the counter-culture came up with sayings like, "Let it all hang out," and "tell it like it is." According to this perspective, Americans were repressed and inhibited.
And there was some truth to that. There was a sense of shame and stigma in admitting to weakness or failure of any kind. As a consequence, people were overly concerned about appearances and often didn’t get the help they needed. They often suffered silently. There wasn’t a lot of verbalizing about other important things. I don’t recall any conversations about sex, marriage and family, or even hearing "I love you," (even though we had no doubt about this). So things weren’t perfect and when we raised our children, we made what we thought were the necessary course corrections and talked about these things (even when our kids didn’t want to hear about them!). 
      "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver,"
                                    (Proverbs 25:11).

But if the previous generation was too repressed, it’s hard not to think that the present generation hasn’t overcorrected. Part of it has to do with technology. Because we can, we do. Because we have essentially unlimited access to others through our phones, computers, and other devices, some seem to feel compelled to practice anytime-anywhere-anything communication (AAAC). They might be standing in front of you at the checkout line, sitting next to you at your child’s ballgame or school function, or driving distracted.

Because they’ve chosen the AAAC route that technology makes possible, two things are happening. They’ve made the social choice to ignore those around them for whoever they might be talking to and they are imposing their conversation (second-hand talk), upon the very people they are ignoring! Texting solves the second problem but not the first. It’s ironic and revealing that a generation so professedly into relationships ignores the very people around them in order to speak/text someone they could speak/text anytime.
This unlimited access also seems to foster unlimited verbiage. Never in the history of man has so much been said and so little communicated. The great sin of this generation seems to be having nothing to say. Wanting to avoid this at all costs, we talk about anything and everything. Whatever comes to our mind goes out our mouth with absolutely no processing whatsoever. We are definitely letting it all hang out. Verbal boundaries are something many are not familiar with. There is a commercial for toilet paper that says, "It’s time to get real and start talking about what happens in the bathroom." Note the implication --- those not participating in the verbiage revolution are somehow phony and out of touch.
"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise," 
                                        (Proverbs 10:19). 
Speaking of television, it and radio had been prepping us for years. Howard Stern, Jerry Springer, and others are the parents of much of what we see and hear today. Talk radio and reality tv are two of their children. Talk radio thrives because anyone can call in a say anything (no reflection or thought is required and actually mature, adult discussion is discouraged because it lacks entertainment value). Reality tv is popular because it’s inexpensive to produce and there is a never ending supply of people who will say or do anything for their fifteen minutes of fame. These have great influence in our popular culture and in our homes --- especially when there is no strong parental filter.
"He who guards his lips guards his life. but he who speaks rashly will come                                      to ruin," (Proverbs 13:3).
All of which leads us to . . . 
Back to Community
Back to Home