Very few people complain about being unable to speak.
Even fewer people complain about being unable to nonverbally communicate a message.
But many, many people, when challenged to write down the story of their conflict scenario (in 500 words or less, which is about a page and half of writing) will “freeze” up and complain of writers’ block.
However, those same people will write a post a diatribe about the latest twist in their conflict drama on Facebook. Or they will tweet it out. Or they will post a meme, share a GIF, or “like” a photo that expresses how they feel about a conflict scenario in their life.
I know this seems like a tenuous argument, but follow me:
If the posting, tweeting, liking and sharing are forms of writing—and thus subject to writers’ block—why is it that so few people have so little trouble expressing themselves via these new methods of communication?
There are three things at work here:
- The rate of formalized reading decreases exponentially after a person finishes high school and many people (other than for work) never pick up a book for reading (either fun or otherwise) ever again. But the immediate entertainment factor of social sharing short circuits this tendency.
- Sharing and communicating via electronic platforms is so new (comparatively) as an adaptation of human culture that the “rules” of communicating are being written (and rewritten) even as the platforms shift and develop. This makes social communication and social sharing truly the “Wild West” of communication styles.
- Formalized writing is often viewed as the purview of business, academics, and government, with little “real world” applicability to the daily lives of many people. This is a more subtle shift that has occurred culturally (at least in the post-Industrial world) even as the nature of work has changes to become less about brawn and more about brains.
These three factors (combined with the idea that providing the space of attention and focus for formalized writing to occur is still viewed as a luxury rather than a need) lead to people literally “freezing” when asked to write down what happened to them in a conflict scenario.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org