The world is connecting more, but also avoiding to interact. People speak from different contexts, and while it might feel great sharing some of your burdens and frustrations, as well as what makes you feel good, proud, understood or relieved when you find a strong match, it’s still over the phone, screen to screen. The workplace is changing. In 2020, a crisis hit us in the public health sector and everyone was affected. Now we have stuff to rethink, consider the challenges and do some planning. But when we look at what language can offer us in terms of international cooperation, personal gain and professional growth, we also look at society evolving, seeing the other, helping out those in need, sharing narratives that might be forgotten, meeting the people who grasp the dimension of things we think, feel, project and hope for. The hard part is that we’re not always going to find the right way to express what we really want to say, describe something accurately, whether it’s a personal experience or the facts we learned about a place or people we might know, the solutions we read about on an article or maybe comment on what we like about a movie, a song, any sort of thing we set out to do — do you like carrots? My grandma used to make a cake with chocolate on top, it’s a family recipe. Misunderstandings are common, and we’re constantly meeting halfway through the bridge, eventually reaching the other side. And the other side feels different. We wanna look back, and maybe go back; but are we gonna have company? What if you went there and you didn’t like the reception? What if you said something that they couldn’t accept, and how are you going to explain, if you don’t even know enough words for it, besides the particular way to pronounce them? Here’s a few situations:
“I promise this won’t happen again”
We’re easily distracted. Sometimes, when we lose sight of what we need to do, for lack of perspective or motivation, we go on a different path and it’s hard to come back to what we’re supposed to be doing. It happens in relationships, and that’s something everyone can relate to, but also at work, at home, or with stuff we tell ourselves we won’t do again because they’re harmful. My dad has diabetes, so I can’t bring stuff from the bakery and eat in front of him, especially if I don’t wash the dishes later. I sleep after midnight and I’m not feeling my best at 7am when I should be ready to start the job in high spirits with a loud and warm good morning greeting, but I’ll roll up in bed and get up on the third alarm, take too long in the shower and even longer waiting for transport. I’ll tell her I’ll make dinner, but keep on looking at social media and then the market is closed so we can’t cook anything other than pasta. It’s important to say you’re sorry, but we need to explain and promise for good that it won’t happen again. It does. But then we find a way to compensate for it.
“I swear I didn’t mean it like that”
You’ve been friends for years. You want someone to listen to a song that means a lot to you, or maybe you didn’t really like it but you think it sounds like the stuff they would enjoy. You send a message saying they need more of that in their life. Then they reply with another one saying it’s the vibe they’re in right now. Conversation goes on and they say something about the style you’re more into. Oh, right, your dream is to be a pop star. You say fuck off. They take it personally, but you’re the one who’s being teased or maybe trolled hard. But it’s normal. You’re friends. Now a couple is eating dinner out. She wants to order some grilled potatoes, you’re going with a burger. Mall stuff. You come back to where you’re sitting with the order, and the thing’s filled with bacon. You gotta send it back, cause you didn’t notice — she doesn’t eat that. But later she says you never pay attention to her and it’s all about you every time. It gets to you. You wanted to have a nice night out instead of being stuck in the apartment. But you were distracted, it was a long day. So you say, I do pay attention to you, if I didn’t I’d be screwed. Who crossed a line? They’d probably say they didn’t mean it, and go back to normal. But these things build up, so it’s important to measure your words and be kind.
“I don’t believe everything they say”
We consume media every day from different sources, and it’s getting harder to find the content we trust the most in a crowded social feed and a constantly changing influence economy. There’s a lot of people talking about how media makes choices to generate clicks and shares, but it’s happening with regular people and now we’re on the phase of elaborating strategies to use the platforms to have visibility and then manage our digital lives in a variety of ways, which isn’t easy when we’re interested in a variety of subjects. Sometimes you may feel like you’re talking to yourself; other times, something small takes bigger proportions. It’s not about who’s famous or not, it’s about what matters to discuss — but people have different voices and narratives, so making sense of what the real story is telling isn’t very easy, which is why we still rely on traditional media. But more importantly, sometimes you meet someone who doesn’t seem to have the best intentions. From spam links to direct messages promising you easy money, to new people who tell you they wanna date you or an ad promising you to teach you the fundamentals of the last thing you googled, we should take some time to think whether or not we want to spend time thinking about why they’re interacting with us. But people can choose to buy, to interact and to believe in whatever they think is a good, accurate representation of what they see for themselves, the people around them and the future.
We rephrase our thoughts a lot. Sometimes we don’t know how to say something because we have a language issue; other times, it’s an emotional issue. Relationships abroad have many limitations, but a ton of benefits. Understanding the world around us is a required skill for any future we can think of, but we don’t necessarily need to search for all the answers, and sometimes a short conversation fixes things, even if it’s just for a while. What’s important is we can still explain what we really think and acknowledge that sometimes we make mistakes, but we’re people, who evolve and who have a natural tendency for cooperation so we can grow and develop better conditions to live in a world that can welcome any kind of cultural background and way of life.