When I decided to write a graduation blog—sort of a tell-all about my CUNY academic journey—I quickly found out I literally had no idea of what to say. It isn’t that I’m lacking in material; rather I was chock-full of witty statements about meeting (or missing) deadlines; “thanks,” to send out to all my CUNY professors and other administrative staff that helped make earning my undergraduate degree an experience I’m truly proud of; and, of course, time-management tips for full-time students who have thousands of other obligations. However, I struggled with pulling anything cohesive together. So, after many wasted afternoons at my local Starbucks, I did what any other Communication and Culture graduate would do—I communicated by sharing my “writer’s block” phenomenon all over the Internet. While waiting for inspiration to hit or a friend to text back with a sympathetic ‘smiley face,’ I stumbled across a really enlightening video featured here.
As a Communication and Culture major, this video really struck a chord with me. The author presents his message in a brutally honest manner that cannot be ignored, if only because we are all so plugged in to society via “smartphones.” I, personally, can attest to the difficulty of striking up a conversation on the bus stop or even offering something as simple as a greeting to a passersby because we just don’t notice each other. The lives that we live online, the conversations that we hold via social networks, even the pictures we take and immediately post have become so important that we may be missing out on everyday moments. And why? Why is it so important that we ‘share’ every minute detail about our lives on social networks—it’s only being looked at, considered, judged, and then passed over, reduced to a ‘like’ or simply forgotten. I don’t quite know the answer to that question but I do know that I am going to utilize my degree NOT to publish my life online but to communicate interpersonally with the people around me.
My studies here at CUNY SPS helped me realize we are a nation of many cultures, languages, ethnicities, backgrounds, stories, and feelings. Each of us matters in our unique way and we all are worth more than the click of a ‘like’ or ‘share’ button. Communication, thus culture, is comprised of much more than wording an essay online or in class, composing an eloquent response to a peer, and knowing the correct usage of a word. Communication does not stop when we leave online chat rooms, close out private messages, or even exit our classes. Likewise, the history behind the many cultures populating America cannot be summed up and manifested in one person who thinks to share his or her life-story via Facebook or chooses to post authentic cultural dishes on Instagram. Communication and culture is so much larger than us that to truly understand its content, we must go outside the Internet, beyond our smartphones and venture into this people-populated world.
Big steps are not necessary in our quest to start interpersonal communication with those around us. The first thing I’m going to do is stop practicing yoga in front of my laptop screen with my cell close at hand and actually enroll in a class at my local gym. Ten dollars a class, no cellphones allowed, and interaction with men and women of all ages and ethnicities. Sounds perfect!