What does a mobile do in places for oral communication? | Trends

What does a mobile do in places for oral communication? | Trends

In the pre-conciliar Masses it was frequent that there were faithful who attended with a devotional, and who opened and read other people's to the performance of the officiant at the altar. Only the monaguillo bell closed the book for a few moments and paid attention to the liturgy. It was attended, but it was not attended. It was there, but it did not participate.

Today, as prayer books, mobile phones and laptops open in meeting and conference rooms, in classrooms ... and the officiant, that is, who is talking, does not even have the use of the bell.

But the places for the spoken word need attention and participation so that they fulfill their function. Oral communication in one place, even if it is made of air waves, also requires the eyes and the hands.

The looks of the speaker and the listener are the points of support of the word arc, hence weakening, and even ruining, if one of them is missing. And the succession of these crossings of looks over the time of communication constitutes the vault in which the words resonate; that's why the importance of the look, since it adds other conditions acoustic to the physics of the place.

The sound envelops us like a sphere, instead we only see half of the world. That is why when something catches our attention we turn our heads to look at its origin. This synchronization of the two senses has been fundamental to our survival. The sound warns and the view checks. In this way we are attentive to the world, attention is fixed, because also, due to the imperative of survival, we are very dispersed in order to track and capture signals from our environment. To direct the glance to who is speaking is, therefore, a sample of attention, of selection between other stimuli that arrive from that surroundings; and so interprets it, for the benefit of communication, the speaker.

The hands are also magnet of the eyes, because when looking at what is being manipulated, if they are not automatisms, greater precision is achieved. So in oral communication the hands and ears struggle to attract the attention of the eyes. The composure demanded of the children in school is expressive, keeping their arms crossed over the desk while listening. Naturally, today we find this imposition inappropriate so that the hands do not attract his gaze.

Speaking and listening, looking, and manipulating are three powerful forms of interaction, of obtaining information from the world for our brain, and they fight each other in each situation to impose themselves on the others and increase their efficiency.

The spoken word needs attention and participation to fulfill its function. Oral communication in one place, even if it is made of air waves, also requires the eyes and the hands.

The mobile is not just a notebook, because if it were, it would fulfill a useful function for listening to the spoken word, since taking notes while listening is an effort of attention that keeps eyes and hands focused too. The mobile is a world much more attractive even than the outside of the room or classroom. So today to get a place of oral communication two doors must be closed: the one that leaves out the noise of the street and the one that leaves out the irresistible labyrinth of the Net. Of course in those same places, and for other activities that do not they reside exclusively in an oral discourse, the mobile can be a window - and not a door that has to be closed - through which a lot of light comes in and helps to work inside.

But we must recognize that the spoken word, with no other mediation than air, is a very fragile communication experience despite being for which natural evolution has given us, while technological evolution provides us with increasingly powerful means to the communication. The struggle is so unequal that perhaps the experience of a place to talk and listen with no other recourse than the vibrations of the air becomes exceptional.

It would not be fair to conclude that the mobile screen is a disturbance to orality. Quite the contrary, that mobile that can be denounced as an intruder in a place of conversation is, however, the one that also makes the spoken word, in formats such as the podcast, put not in front of us, claiming our gaze, but rather our side to accompany us.

There is no greater proximity in communication than that experienced when we hear someone walking by our side. Walk and talk, for the home or the street or the field, or sit in the same bench -or make traces in a notebook-, and share the same vision that is before you ..., or close your eyes and do not turn off words. Attention to the spoken word, thus amplified by technology, will have an excellent opportunity to reinforce itself.

Antonio Rodríguez de las Heras is a professor Carlos III University of Madrid


Life in digital it is an imagined scenario that serves for reflection, it is not a prediction. Through him move the alefitas, prothetic beings, in continuous connection with the digital Aleph, since the Red is a phenomenal contraction of space and time, like the Borginian Aleph, and not a mesh.


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