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Friends (How are you?)

How are you? In 2007 I began working with children supporting their development of language and communication skills. Roll on to 2021 and I’ve noticed for a while that adults are communicating with their fingers through social media rather than in conversation. The rise of the internet has provided access to a variety of resources and at the same time allowed ‘friends’ to be emotionally removed.

Friends for those who are unaware has two definitions as a noun and a verb.

Noun ~ a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.

Verb ~ add (someone) to a list of friends or contacts on a social networking website.

Whilst collecting numerous verb friends we have a rise in mental health issues. There is a lack of face to face communication, conversations lack verbal communication, there is a decline in the use of language which will impact on the next generation who will master technology but have no role models for conversation, discussion, debate or negotiation. A terrible situation if you ask me (maybe someone will).

Friends become blurred between the noun and verb. They decide you’re having an amazing life or the opposite without ever asking, ‘how are you’?

A conversation requires two people. One to listen and the other to speak, then the other way round (as taught to four year olds). There is a an art in asking a question, it would be a closed question (a yes or no response) or an open one. The open question would be:

1, tell me about your day

2, what happened when.....

3, how did that make you feel?

Social media has created a place where people make up stories about someone’s life. A photo conveys a thousand words, apparently. You may have concluded a thousand words though the image but the correct 1000 words could be completely different.

The real life, face to face conversations make a noun friend feel listened to, valued, cared about and loved. They may be uncomfortable as the listener has to emotionally engage which we have become removed from.

In 2020 we had a Be Kind movement which perhaps needed support in how to be kind. A listening ear is one way of supporting that but more importantly a friend who asks about you and your life.

As the questioner and listener it can be hard to know how to respond to news. ‘I’m sorry to hear that’, ‘would you like to talk more’, ‘what can I do to help’? Could be some of the responses. If you have more comment with them below.

Think about the last time you made time to see a friend and have a conversation without mobile phones distracting you. When was the last time you asked someone how they were and listened. Listened so carefully that if you were asked you’d be able to repeat back to them what they said.

‘How are you’?

Three little words that mean so much.

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