there was a new episode of radiolab yesterday - hallelujah! - and i listened to it this afternoon. it was all about words, and language, and it started the wheels turning in my head (does that surprise anyone?)
i'm going to try to summarize and communicate my thoughts about the episode in a timely manner, but no promises. here goes -
they started off with a story about a boy who was deaf and went until he was 27 before he was able to communicate with anyone - he was 27 before he even knew that things had names and words associated with them. there was also a story about a deaf school in nicaragua and how the students there came up with their own language, and it was only after they did so that they were able to process thinking about other people's thoughts and thought processes. before that, it seems they weren't aware that other people can think. makes sense - if you can't communicate with anyone, how do you know they feel and think and act just like you do? if you can't talk to them, life would be more like watching a movie than observing others acting autonomously.
those two stories were what started me thinking, and this is what i thought. if lack of communication leads to isolation in general, then does our ability to communicate, and the ways we communicate, lead to the connections we have with others. (i'm sure i'm not breaking any new ground here, but i had never thought of things in quite this way before.)
if i meet someone, and we communicate in generally the same way, is this what sparks a close relationship? because the way i see it, humans in general have the same experiences, or at least all experiences boil down to approximately the same things. if i tell you a story about my life and the emotion (or emotions) that experience caused me to feel, chances are you have also had an experience that caused you to feel those same emotions. everyone feels loss and hurt and anxiety and love and happiness and fear and peace. the experiences we have that cause us to feel those things differ, but the feelings we get from them are the same from person to person. so if i am a good communicator in general, or if i communicate that experience to you in a way that you can easily recognize and relate to, then we both identify the emotion and share a connection.
so does our ability to communicate dictate the relationships we develop? seems kind of like a no-brainer, but the light bulb went on for me. maybe that is the reason some friendships never get off the ground, past the superficial stage. maybe that is why i just can't get that boy to date me, or why i spend so much time with some friends that we start to sound alike. we either can or can't communicate well with each other. (there is a possibility i am oversimplifying this, but i think there is a strong possibility that this is at least one of the factors in a complicated process.)
i love radiolab.