Common language, common context, common time, common values
This post comes about after having chats with my single friends for the last few years. I think a key challenge is the difficulty of conveying ideas and emotions across a digital medium where facial muscles and tone are not in the arsenal of communication that can be deployed. Instead they are replaced with emojis and gifs that might be better at helping you be a more entertaining person 🤪
After unethically studying my friends for the last few years these are some conclusions I’ve drawn to better aid conversations (it’s all pretty duh, but hey yet another framework doesn’t hurt 😉):
This is obvious. If you can’t even communicate there is no way to even express and exchange ideas. Even with translation apps, I have found it difficult where the other party does not speak English, Mandarin or Cantonese (in that order of proficiency). My resume does state that I know French and Japanese. I tried and failed miserably.
One alternative is of course language agnostic emojis. But ideas through 1000 words are vague and strange. And frankly, makes an individual sound like a drama queen. Ideas and concepts need some degree of precision sometimes. The increasing support of emojis and expanding vocabulary, I think there might actually be enough to form proper sentences and have it’s own grammar at some point of time.
So after common language, there needs to be some common context ie similarities in interests, books, places visited etc. If not conversion just falls off the cliff of hello how are you? and ends in a horrific splat with entrails spilling out. I also think common context is the bare minimum before meeting anyone in real life. If the chat rooms are standard responses out of Rosetta Stone, chances are the love of your life is not this person, unless you are looking for a language coach called Rosetta Stone.
This is also something I think is important to go through exploration and see the world. That helps to build a stronger contextual library to engage in conversation with others.
Normally with common context, there will be common time. There is no point if conversation happens through letters in a bottle transported by the ocean. Even at the speed of pigeon it is quite painful, especially in this day and age of near real time communication. Overly delayed responses loses the impact of the idea that was conveyed. Ideas are fragile creations with a short lifecycle. The historical memories of them are worse. They pop out of thin air through the strangest associations of the surroundings and vanish as fast as they appear. Without the environmental cues to help keep the idea alive, it is difficult to recall and conversation dies with it.
You find someone with common values, just marry them right now. Most people will assume you have similar values. Lip service versus the truth hidden in the walls of the aorta are galaxies apart. Context may develop values. But values guide the individual. It is the philosophy for yourself. For those who are still a tabula rasa decades in existence, there may be religion or other philosophies to refer to as a guide. But if you’re lucky you will find out what you truly believe in. If you’re even luckier you will find someone who has the same philosophy and north star (my opinion is that most people will just borrow bits and pieces of older philosophies to suit their needs, lifestyle and arguments). Folks with shared values will have the deepest conversation. If you’ve reached this point, I think words are no longer necessary.