Communication Breakdown

“Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough.”      ~Richard M. DeVos

Communication breakdown, well that conjures up a whole host of things in one’s mind.  Here in China with the Great Firewall, the language barrier, and the time distance between loved ones back home, breakdowns in communication happen.

In China the government controls the media, what is written, read, viewed and accessed.  Many locals and virtually all foreigners have what is called a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that access the internet through various hosting IP addresses world-wide.

When the VPN isn’t able to connect, I’m pretty sure that Great Firewall has found me and is blocking my access, it’s an interesting proposition as to what to do next! We are so tied to our electronic devices and the medium for maintaining our connections with people through social media as well as to news sources and entertainment.  When you’re some six thousand miles from people you love, you do want and hope your VPN is working!

The very thought of a communication breakdown is poignant for me at the moment.  So many things are impacted by our proximity to them, especially people.  Much is lost in interpersonal communication through electronic means be it email, chat, or even video chat.  And when access is blocked, either governmentally or by snarky interpersonal snafus, the feeling leaves one with a pinched heart and confused sensibility.

Fact of the matter is, communication on any level takes two… connectivity requires a means to connect albeit through an IP address for electronic access or through interpersonal means of the heart and a reasonable nature… when any of those fail, a breakdown in communication definitely occurs.

Coming from the States, ninety-nine percent of the time things work, in the electronic medium!  I thought nothing of turning on my Mac and having instant connection, even at my favorite café. One learns to take things for granted and to expect nothing less than that ninety-nine percent connectivity. Also as a Westerner, we are geared to fix and figure out why stuff doesn’t work when it fails and to correct it.  Here in China, it’s common to hear anyone say, that well it’s China.  So the lesson is to learn to go with the flow and to let it go!

The dance of successful communication has never been more poignantly played out daily here in ZZ navigating the streets on an e-bike!  This is no joke in a city of six million plus people!  E-bikes require no licensing to own and operate and there are no rules of the road for e-bike drivers, meaning that e-bikes go every-which-way and where ever the heck they want to go!  There are clearly established, unconventional rules of the road here, else there would be terrible fatal accidents every minute of every day!  So I’ll call it the beautifully choreographed dance between drivers and pedestrians, the unwritten and unspoken agreement to rules of the road, and an often un-acknowledged agreement in that the process will work out, people getting around on these full and crazy streets will work together to make it their respective destinations! And you know what, they do, they’re all goin’ with the flow and somehow in its crazy way, the whole dance works on the streets here in China!

Interpersonally it communication at a distance compares well to the scenario above and really boils down to the same thing, even at a distance with our family and friends back home and round the world.  It’s important to trust in, often, unexpressed rules of relationships, and most importantly to learn to go with the flow… to remember what we value about our relationships and the person, and to be willing to find a level of trust in that person’s humanity that as the Great (Fire)Wall that is inhibiting connectivity (whatever that impedance may be), when it has lifted, and reason and possibility has returned, to be open and available to reconnect.


So meanwhile here in China, with the Great Firewall impeding my connectivity, I am goin’ with the flow, man… and hey, it’s not a half bad day out there for discovering more of this new city I’m calling home… my e-bike is calling!

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