Why We Communicate

The Mystics say about this life that we come alone and we go alone.

So, the first and most basic reason to communicate is to defeat aloneness. We search for like minded individuals to form a tribe, and not too long ago the default method began with a grunt. These days we send text messages. But the result is the same. Tribes fulfill our need for protection, and they offer the element of structure. (Think of corporations like Google and Apple.)

The 2nd reason to communicate is to gain power within the group. We want to stand out from the crowd. We need to feel special. Political leaders as well as CEO’s achieve that via a perfectly crafted speech.

The 3rd reason to communicate is to convey information. The tribe or community must grow, and to do that we need structures and infrastructure. Every builder communicates to the workers: how high, how wide, and were to place the doors.  The national weather service Tsunami warning system is another example of conveying necessary information.

Then we need to express wonder and joy. How could  society progress without Mystics speaking from the hilltop, or bards ballading on love. Without them the group would become monochromatic.

We also communicate to learn about or our own self. By participating, we come to know whether the opinions we hold are sound or just unrealistic projections.

Many of us stumble in our efforts to communicate, particularly when it comes to the written word. As orators we can nuance with hand movements or a smile, not so with a love letter, or a legal document. We learn this lesson by the frowns of misunderstanding  on the faces of our readers.

But in the end, whatever method we choose, the ultimate reason for an intelligent society to communicate was beautifully stated by the novelist Isabelle Allende: We communicate that which should not be forgotten.

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