26 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: Communication and Writing

If there is something to be recognised, it is that while communication is a necessary part of our lives, there are some of us that are just not good at it. Over the centuries, mankind has been thwarted by numerous phobia and abnormal social tendencies, thus allowing the very comforting method of online communication to succeed. There are a great many reasons why people need to communicate and these include: comparison, similarity, support and networking. People use communication in order to compare differences between themselves and others, yet on the same stream of thought, they also use it to find similarities. Support is a very necessary part of our lives too, primarily because we cannot exist on our own mentally or emotionally. However, over time, communication in the form of writing has been used for the modern cause of networking or expanding business opportunities. So we have quite a wide range of reasons why communicating is necessary but on the other hand, why do we particularly like to communicate in writing.

Relationships are built on knowing one another, and today it is relatively easy to get to know someone ‘online’. While this seems to be a good form of communication, there is a problem with it. The major problem is that while we can gather a great deal about someone via their writing, we also are not let in to their innate selves. This is where many pedophiles and sex-criminals seem to succeed. They are able to present an idea of what they are like in online chat-rooms, but those reading it are not able to pick on the finer nuances of their character. The process of communicating through writing therefore allows us to create images of ourselves and others, the way we want to see them and not necessarily how we really are. In this case there is a direct relationship to the fantasy world. That is, this is the same reason why people are enthralled with fantasy films and books. We are able to communicate or relate to people around us with relative ease and without feeling threatened. Let us take for instance the film Lord of the Rings: in this case, the film was described as fantasy, but to many, the finer details were incredibly similar to that of real life. Despite there being orc’s, elves and dwarves running around, there is also a symbol of power that is real in our true lives. The entire of humanity is fighting a battle between good and evil on a daily basis and this no less related to the relationship between power and the fight for total control. Using this as an example, we can see that although we live with ourselves, we like to create other versions of ourselves.

If we consider now the book The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, we can see that writing is also about identity and about being ‘visible’. The character in the book, Leopold Gursky, is a young aspiring writer whose book The History of Love (a book within a book) is collection of memories that run back and forth through his lifetime. These writings were the works of someone who was intent on not being forgotten and who had begun to feel as though he were invisible. Having escaped from Poland and gone to New York, he now undertook the rather innocuous job of being a locksmith. It is important to realise that in this book the history of love is not the history of love in general, but HIS history of love. It makes the story more compellingly intimate that if it were a mere history of how love came about. It is an in depth personal relationship of the writer with himself, revealing both the best and the worst of himself. “Suddenly I felt the need to beg God to spare me as long as possible…I was terrified that I or one of my parents were going to die…The fear of death haunted me for a year…I was left with a sadness that couldn’t be rubbed off”(Krauss, 125). Tentatively the reason why this book succeeds is that it looks specifically at how people deal with hopes and fears in their lives. There is no need to put on a false bravado for the sake of public appearance when you write. It is in a sense, just you and the paper and anyone who wishes to read it is not bound by the identity that you have created.

Let us now return to the theme of Lord of the Rings and identity – the reason why we write. We write because we essentially have two identities: one is the way we see ourselves and the other is the way the outside world sees us. We are never able to fully allow someone to know who we are in our own minds, but they can gain idea from what we say and do. There is therefore the individual identity and the social/collective identity. George Herbert Mead created the theory of the social self – the “I” and the “me” and this is a particularly interesting aspect of identity that reflects why we like to relate to others through writing: “On the other hand, the stuff that goes to make up the “me” whom the “I” addresses and whom he observes, is the experience which is induced by this action of the “I.””(Mead, 374). The “I” part of the self is the essential self, the innate personality that cannot be changed, but the “me” is the part that changes to relate to those around you. If you consider the question “Who am I?” and consider writing about who you think you are as opposed to who others think you are, then you realise that who you are is a complex mix of other with whom you connect. Lord of the Rings saw a great deal of different “ethnic” groups that had to come together in order to survive – the major reason why communicate in the first place. We can see this in the inscription that Frodo Baggins writes at the end of the book he wrote about the Battle for Middle earth: “My Diary. My unexpected journey, there and back again. And what happened after. Adventures of five Hobbits. The Tale of the Great Ring, compiled by Bilbo Baggins from his own observations and the accounts of his friends. What we did in the War of the Ring.”(Tolkien, 1004). Note that here is reference to both the singular and the plural, separating the personal from the social but recognising the relationship between the two. First of all we see that while he is a hobbit, he is also Bilbo Baggins, giving duality to his existence.

We have looked at two literary pieces that look at identity on very different levels:  The History of Love looks at personal identity with emphasis on the cultural identity as well while Lord of the Rings looks at the ethnic/groups identity while also looking at the individuals that reside within it. However, we now consider writing mediums such as Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and Bibo, in an attempt to understand why people enjoy the less personable relationships with others through writing. First of all, you can write as little or as much about yourself as you live. You don’t have to give away too much and you also don’t have to communicate if you don’t want to. You can choose who you want to communicate with while also flexing your own artistic and creative writing prowess. Many people enjoy writing notes or quotes about themselves or what they enjoy on Facebook, allowing them to connect with others who have similar interests. In some cases, the person enjoys writing about themselves; their likes and dislikes while in other cases, a false picture is painted. Take for example the person writes that their birth date is ten years younger than they actually are. Or consider the picture that a person is able to upload, that does not necessarily look like the person concerned at all. The person that friends see, is the person they think they are getting. In some cases, a person actually enjoys the mystery of not allowing facial expression to reveal how they feel while in other cases, people enjoy using emotive words and phrases that reveal how they are feeling. Another reason why this is a popular site is actually because of the sense of worth that people gain from it. Having many friends makes you feel more worthy, loved and appreciated, giving you both a confidence boost and a sense of fitting in. The process of Facebook actually allows you to communicate with people from across the world, whom you would usually not be able to contact. Competitions such as “Best Friend Contest” appear to be fun and aimed at recreation but really serve to give the people concerned the idea that they are better than someone else, without it being competitive in the threatening way. The same is true for “groups” that you are able to join, thus giving your friends an idea of who you are and what you like. It gives a person the sense of being individual while also being a part of a group. Writing is still fundamentally an expression of the self, something that would usually be considered vain if it were not for internet chat sites.

Returning now to the reasons why people communicate in the written medium on websites such as Facebook is for comparative purposes. This means that one is able to look at others on the websites whether friends or acquaintances and say “I am not like that”. It is important for the person to create their own platform for identity that says ” This is me, here I am” as well as saying “I am who I am because I am not who you are.” In another sense, we use it to identify similarities. We connect with people like ourselves, who have the same interests and enjoy the same activities. This is shown by the groups we join and the fan-base we agree with – this is shown in our profile that tells others what we like. We also use this form of communication for support in times that are difficult. It is easy to gain a broad perspective of advice and support through the broad spectrum of friends we are able to communicate with on a daily basis. In today’s world, networking has become extremely popular to expand businesses and entrepreneurial relationships, thereby broadening the base of people who are able to view our sites and profiles. This is a useful tool insofar as it gives the reader a perspective of what they can expect through the viewing of pictures and profiles.

Writing is a form of communication that is highly personalised while also being not too invasive. You are able to choose your audience and also able to chose who you wish to communicate with. Writing is also a creative medium that we are able to manipulate to suit ourselves. It is therefore an expressive tool that we are able to keep forever, a published or well-kept piece of writing lasts forever and can be communicated long after we have departed, giving us not only memories, but also everlasting existence. We are thus able to relate the past, present and the future of who we are in one communicable source.

References:

Krauss, Nicole. The History of Love. WWW. Norton & Co. Inc, 2006.

Mead, George Herbert.  “The Social Self”, Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 10, 1913: 374-380

Tolkien, JRR. The Lord of the Rings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991

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