We’re all clamoring to be heard - to share our thoughts, feelings, opinions, and musings in ways that connect us to others. It gives us a sense of belonging. And thanks to the cyber world, our audience potential has exploded; we’ve gone global. As busy people with limited time, social media, email, and texting are attractive. Still, we yearn to meet in person; nothing takes the place of face-to-face interactions. Researchers say we’re too plugged in and are losing our ability to interact the old-fashioned way.
So, to meet the need for convenience, brevity, and maintaining or relearning our non-cyber social skills, I’m launching a new, improved social media outlet soon: Bodybook. That’s right; we’re going to wear our words, like human bumper stickers. Oh sure, we already have t-shirts galore with a variety of themes, but we need more personalized phrases to reflect our rapidly-changing, real-time statuses. And Bodybook will eliminate the invisibility factor: People tend to send electronic messages they would never say to someone’s face. We’ll be a kinder people.
Strutting about town in our sandwich signs and writing our posts with dry erase markers, we can update whenever we want; no smart phone or computer needed. Our moods, thoughts, answers to unasked questions, what we had for dinner last night, opinions, recipes, dog tricks, parenting tips, and jokes will be out there for the world to see second-by-second.
We’ll know how many “likes” we get by the expressions on others’ faces, and being “unfriended” will entail refusing to read someone’s sign. “Sharing” will be pointing to a status you like and yelling to all passersby, “Hey, take a look at this guy’s board!”
Bodybook will not totally replace conversation - we can comment verbally or draw little emoticons on other’s signs. But BB will be a screening tool to see if we want to take time for an audible conversation. This will save hours of listening to others droning on about things we find uninteresting, and will warn us of each other’s dispositions on any given day.
At the top of our boards, we will write our feelings in corresponding colors. “Feeling irritated” will be Red; “feeling blessed,” Blue; “feeling depressed,” Black; “feeling happy,” Yellow; and “missing Prince,” Purple.
Statuses may be short or long, depending on the length of the sign, and can be written on both the front and back boards if a long rant is needed.
“Bad hair day” will be unnecessary, partly because hair is self-explanatory and partly because bad hair no longer exists. People pay a lot of money to look like a rat took up residence on their heads during the night. I get that for free every morning.
“Flat tire this morning,” as well as “No coffee yet,” could explain your grumpy demeanor and the shell-shocked look in your eyes as you enter your workplace.
Your child melting down in Walmart? “Whose kid is that?”
Teacher looking at you like you’re the worst parent since Mommie Dearest? “My taxes help pay your salary.”
Rude server during your dinner out? “Your tip will be as large as your smile.”
Improved communication between the sexes will grow exponentially.
“That time of the month” will deter unwanted conversations, and we’ll relax in solitude with a favorite movie and bushels of chocolate. That status will be unisex, of course; deny it all you want, guys, but that Harley in the garage is not the only “cycle” you’ve got going for you.
“Not tonight, I have a headache.”
“I don’t understand what you do at work, but go ahead and tell me if you don’t mind my glazed-over eyes.”
“Need to vent – don’t try to fix it.”
“Just because I took a breath doesn’t mean I’m finished talking.”
And when I hear the “click, click, click” of Flash’s floss pick every night for 20 minutes, my evening wear will be, “I’ve killed for less.”
Flash’s posts will both warn me and warm my heart.
“Me need man cave.”
“I quit listening 10 minutes ago.”
And my favorite, “Nothing makes your butt look big, dear.”
To replace redundant reminders and save our vocal chords, Flash and I will wear messages for our son, Cowboy.
“Use your words.”
“Use your inside voice.”
“Just say hello to strangers.”
“Do not hug strangers.”
“I can’t bring you to the store anymore if you don’t stop hugging everybody!”
Likewise, Cowboy will have his own statuses.
“You wouldn’t want to hear the words I’m not using!”
“You people talk too much.”
Given that perhaps dogs can write, ours will wear puppy-size signs.
“I haven’t been walked in 6 years.”
“Now Hiring: Opening for new owner.”
“Don’t ruin my stink with a bath.”
“You don’t smell so great either.”
“I’ll quit barking if you quit talking.”
And for my brother, Doc, the monosyllabic texter, there will be mini-sandwich signs available with just enough room for him to fit “Yup,” “Nope,” or “Cool” on the board.
Bodybook will replace presidential debates, thank God, and we can return to our regular programming. Since limited room will demand a succinct message, presidential candidates will write what they are actually going to do once in office, rather than making campaign promises soon to be broken. And they will be required to use permanent markers, to prevent their changing their words later.
But I know, eventually, things will go awry with Bodybook. People will charge at each other with erasers, trying to change how others feel, changing others’ agendas to match their own, altering perspectives to be politically correct. It will be editing run amok. Soon, everyone will be writing, and nobody will be reading. Messages, as well as relationships, will be lost.
Perhaps the answer to connecting with our fellow man lies in our technique, rather than in the media we use. The solution to our word wars lies within the messengers. By respectfully saying what we mean and meaning what we say, and kindly listening to others, we could bridge a lot of gaps. And moments of peace are worth thousands of words.