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Comms and non-comms
Article published on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2004
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Humans come in two varieties: communicators and non-communicators. For short, call them comms and non-comms.

Out of each 100 persons, 98 are non-comms. Only two out of a hundred persons communicate willingly and well.

Non-comms fail to stay in touch for a number of reasons. The biggest of these is that they don’t much care about other people. They may notice if their spouse or child suddenly turns blue, but outside of that the human race could disappear and they wouldn’t be aware of it, as long as the TV worked and there was food in the fridge.

A second reason is mental or physical laziness. It takes mental effort to generate the thought, “I wonder how Ramona is doing. Maybe I should call her.” Physical effort is required of me to go to the phone and dial Ramona’s number. Then, if she answers, I must think of something to say to her. If Ramona is a gabber, I must hold the phone to my ear and mumble “Uh-huh. You don’t say!” every minute or two.

Sending an e-mail also requires effort, but of a different kind: I must actually choose the proper words to use. Will my grammar and spelling be good enough?

For non-comms, the solution to such questions is simply “Why bother?”

A small percentage of non-comms fails to communicate because they are busy. They have three jobs, a crippled uncle or an Airedale with Crohn’s disease.

Arrogance and self-absorption are other traits of many non-comms. Their mind-set is this: “My life is more interesting than the lives of my family, friends and acquaintances. They should call me, not vice versa.”

And what are the traits of comms? It would be nice to conclude that all communicators are unselfish and devoted to others. In truth, some are.

But more likely, they are simply curious. They want to know things, such as whether Charlie won the scholarship or how Raquel’s knee replacement turned out.

Comms also enjoy comparing their thoughts with those of other people. They welcome new opinions and outlooks, even when the alternative ideas are shocking or absurd.

Many communicators are lonely. They need to reach out and touch someone.

Writing an e-mail doesn’t frighten a true comm. Most comms know that correct grammar and graceful phrasing don’t amount to a pitcher of spit. What counts is the fact that the e-mail was sent and that the recipient now knows the sender is alive. Any other information included is also appreciated.

Finally, communicators do their thing because they know what causes most friendships and other forms of human closeness to end. Disagreements are one reason. Death is another. Extreme illness can take a toll.

But the primary culprit is neglect. We just let our connections fade, one day at a time, until suddenly we wake up and they’re gone.
Article published on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2004
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