“The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say, “What are you going through?”
- Simone Weil
In this digital age, we’ve all experienced situations in which a text message or e-mail was misconstrued because the person on the receiving end could not discern tone. Without the facial expressions, physical gestures, and vocal inflections gathered during face-to-face conversation, communication can often be challenging.
“The more we understand about postures and movements that we use to signal our feelings to one another,” says zoologist Desmond Morris, “the less insecure and uncertain we feel.”
As Tupac Shakur sez: “I’m a reflection of the community.”
With that in mind, I am unilaterally announcing: “Face-to-Face February.” One month to explore the value of real-time human contact and the role it can play in saving our eco-system.
Mic Check: Hey, if nothing else, it might good for a few communal laughs…
“The only honest art form is laughter, comedy. You can’t fake it… try to fake three laughs in an hour – ha ha ha ha ha – they’ll take you away, man. You can’t.”
- Lenny Bruce
We humans have invented so many ways to express our humor—just think of all the words we have (in English alone) for “laugh” (giggle, chortle, snicker, chuckle, cackle, guffaw, hoot, snigger, titter, snort, etc.) and “funny” (hilarious, humorous, uproarious, comical, droll, hysterical, amusing, witty, mirthful, etc.), and “joke” (gag, one-liner, witticism, wisecrack, pun, riposte, jest, prank, jibe, etc.).
But somewhere over the years, we manage to lose a few hundred laughs every 24 hours.
Children (of all cultures) laugh, on average, 400 times a day. For adults, the number is 15. So, it doesn’t matter what makes you laugh…but that you laugh. Doctors Gael Crystal and Patrick Flanagan call laughter “a form of internal jogging that exercises the body and stimulates the release of beneficial brain neurotransmitters and hormones.”
Endocrinologist Stanley Tan has found that humor and exercise trigger “similar physiological processes,” i.e. releasing neuro-hormones that act “like an orchestra, each instrument makes a particular note. Laughter makes the entire orchestra more melodious or balanced.”
Mic Check: Typing LOL or LMAO is not the same thing as a group of comrades heartily laughing together before heading out to do battle against the 1% who threaten the future of all life on earth.
“Sometimes it’s a form of love just to talk to somebody that you have nothing in common with and still be fascinated by their presence.”
- David Byrne
Which brings me back to the whole face-to-face concept. In the name of communication context, let’s not forget all the solidarity that’s been cultivated without the benefit of an iPhone…for example, movements in areas like anti-slavery, labor, women’s rights, civil rights, and anti-Apartheid.
So, while one of the magic elements of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is the clever use of technology to not only connect like-minded souls but also to outwit the 1%, perhaps it’s greatest strength lies in its fervent striving for face-to-face human contact. Occupants are encouraged to share their stories, anyone can yell out “Mic Check,” and close-knit occupations of all forms and styles continue to sprout up across the globe.
Dorothy Day sez: “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”
Two simple steps towards embracing face-to-face community:
Mic Check: When staring down a heavily-funded, well-armed propaganda machine, let’s never forget that it’s gonna take a wide and ever-evolving range of tactics to bring down the dominant culture and it starts with a combination of direct action and direct contact.
So, my fellow occupants, the question remains: Who’s gonna have the last laugh?
Let’s find out by getting face-to-face in February…and beyond.
We are the 99%. Expect us. Join us…