What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.

If you are an old movie aficionado, this phrase brings to mind a scene from an excellent 1967 Paul Newman movie called Cool Hand Luke.  This memorable quote is spoken in the movie by a cruel prison warden played by Strother Martin, and later, paraphrased by Luke (Newman), a stubborn prisoner.  The warden speaks these words to Newman as he is thrown into the hole (an outdoor hot hell of sorts), as punishment for not following prison rules.  But in this movie, Newman’s character does not have a happy ending.

Fast forward to 2018

Despite our advanced technology, miscommunication is still with us, bigger and better than ever, via thoughtless public musings now broadcast to the world.  As a matter of fact, you could say that in modern life, a failure to communicate seems to be an everyday …no wait…every minute occurrence.

Whether rich or poor…famous or ordinary, foot-in-mouth is the quickest way for us to self-destruct.  Don’t believe me?  I’ll give you examples.  In the olden days, communication missteps were rare and more understandable.  Indians could spoil their attack plans when a sudden strong breeze changed the meaning of their smoke signals.  The early caveman found it impossible to erase any trace of his early cave drawings and was quite embarrassed when his mate discovered some old images of a former lover.  And imagine where we would be if Paul Revere could not remember whether to shout one if by land or two if by sea…or was it the other way around?

Proper communication is vital and positive for us all. 

People never seem to learn that it’s not a good idea to criticize others, especially their boss, employer, co-workers, friends, or relatives online.  It takes even less to start trouble talking mindlessly about politicians, religion, ex-wives and…well, any topic.  Anything can set people off and start a major war with permanent casualties.  The most likely casualty being you, your job, your career, your income, your friends, your family…you name it.

So, despite the fact that most of us love our gadgets and can’t spend more than fifteen seconds away from checking our text messages and Instagram photos, we just can’t put them down.  We are addicted to saying everything we used to know better than to say.  Now, behind the anonymous feel of using our thumbs, we drive a bullet through our chest with words on a flat screen that can be easily misinterpreted.  We know it could cost us everything, but we just don’t care.  That urge to commit the crime of miscommunication simply overwhelms us.

Don’t believe me?  It’s true.  Hardly a day goes by in the 21st century that does not include some alleged celebrity, politician, Kardashian, or regular folk pushing the boundaries of decency, sexism, and sanity with an ill-conceived text, tweet, or photo faux pas.  It could cost them everything they cherish, but onward they sludge as they fail to communicate…while communicating.

It has become so pervasive that now there are rehab type resorts where young people, addicted to this new freedom…for a mere $50,000… can go to cleanse themselves of their overwhelming negative social media habits.  I call it social media withdrawal.  Smell the flowers, watch nature, enjoy a sunset.  There’s more to life than a tweet.

Where does it all end?

There is a cycle to everything in life.  I hope the time will come when we will hit the tipping point and social media will be overshadowed by real communication again.  When people will understand that machines and computers can’t solve all our problems, only we can.

We should all be educated and learn how to socially communicate with what we were born with…our voice, our words and our brain.  Use them wisely.  Limit your failures to communicate, and success will be in your future.

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BILL PATTI Founder & President at YourVoiceProfessor Bill is an award-winning radio and TV announcer, voice-over talent, and college professor … (Read full bio)