A year ago I did an introductory course on Human Communication. I have to admit I did it partially because there were no other particularly interesting courses to me, but I suppose I’ve always been interested in communication in some sense.
You see, I’m an artist. What does that have to do with communication? Well, it means I interact with and initiate communication in all kinds of [creative] ways. The more I learn about communication, the more I want to learn about it. It’s just like art to me – it’s so ridiculously simple but so mindbogglingly complex.
Now, a year later, I’m reading for a minor in Communication Studies and doing this course called Communication Theory – all the ways people think we communicate – and discovering what my life philosophy means for how I understand this paradoxically complex yet simple world.
Basically, I search for the theory of self before I can understand anything else. In the same way as we ask ourselves questions to find who we are as people, I’ve asked myself questions in the hope of finding who I am as a theorist.
A theory is in essence a set of related questions you ask based on experience. It’s like asking yourself if you’re a good person after evaluating how you’ve treated people for the last five years. There are two sides of the spectrum when it comes to getting an answer to those questions.
The scientific mind will look for cold, hard evidence to prove a simple truth. So maybe you gave your friend a lift, or bought your mum a gift just ‘because’. Or maybe you refused to lend your friend a calculator for his math test, or gave someone a hard time. Science will prove to you whether you’re a good person or not if the instances of good outweigh the bad or vice versa. It will predict that following the same behavioural patterns will tell you the same thing no matter how may times you test it because that’s the way it’s meant to be.
Scientifically, people will be considered good as long as the facts reflect that they do more good than bad. That’s fine and all, but doesn’t that seem just a bit too…robotic?
For something as diverse as communication, I don’t think we can be so hard and fast. Suppose the good instances outweigh the bad, but the degree of bad outweighs the degree of good? Are you still a good person then? Suppose the bad instances are more than the good, but the degree of good is high enough to make the bad negligible? Can’t we do something to change being ‘bad’?
Can’t we say that the numbers ‘lie’ then? Can’t we say that fact without feeling misrepresents the true nature of things? Is everything really so black and white? Are there no grey areas? Aren’t there so many things in the world that are open to interpretation?
I’m curious. When it comes to communication, I can’t help but prefer to assess quality over quantity here. I won’t say the scientific method has no credence at all – that would be unfair of me, especially given how useful hard evidence can be. I’m just saying, if a gut feeling led to the creation of a theory, shouldn’t feelings continue to have a say? Maybe everything is just not as simple as a universal truth.
Cyndi, the Humanist