Yes and no.

We find ourselves under constant pressure to keep it short. To say as much as possible in just a few abbreviated words. Twitter has defined 140 characters as the new War and Peace. Even so, many of us find it hard to accept simple words of just two or three characters in a conversation. Especially when they come in the form of a question.

YES AND NOA simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is a thing of the past. Ask a convicted killer with a lethal injection running through his veins if he’ll be dead in a few minutes and he’ll qualify the answer. ‘How do you define dead?’ The only time you get a firm ‘yes’ sir ‘no’ is from the mouth of a liar. Brevity in response to a question is a sure sign that you mean the exact opposite of what you just said.

Lance knows.

Even people who are strongly on one side of a subject seem obliged to avoid a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, preferring to go on and on according to how passionately pro or con they feel. Ask an anti-gun control lobbyist if he thinks that a clearly deranged spastic with time in jail should be able to buy an AR-15 and he won’t just say ‘yes.’ Instead, he’ll scream non-stop for ten minutes at the poor sap who dared to ask. He’ll stamp his approval of the next mass killing with a high-decibel delivery displaying fear of everything from his own government turning on his ten-year old to the firm belief that ‘The Walking Dead’ is a reality show.

Civil conversation has become an oxymoron. Discussion is dead. We communicate in cryptic ‘bites’ that lead to no common ground. In terms of sit down and chat, the world is becoming divided into those who want to dialogue and those who want to dominate. The gun-control focused Democrat pours a glass of wine and sits down to talk. The well-armed Republican opens a beer and delivers a seamless rant to a background of Ted Nugent’s Greatest Hit.

Reading between the lines it seems that those who refuse any interruption of their rant live in the fear that if they pause, they’ll fall. That their argument is indefensible. On the other hand, those who really want to talk are hoping to open the door for some kind of compromise. Deep down, they feel that we all have things in common that could form the basis for real answers, like ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ Family. Survival. American Idol. These things will bring us together. They dream of a tenuous agreement and the promise of a fragile go-forward action plan.

Outside of the digital environment, the person of few words is a thing of the past. The notion of connected thoughts has been texted out of context.

11 years ago

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