Lifestyle, Ludotheque

Communication Breakdown

Maybe it’s all the disappointments we’ve had over the last decade; here in England, you may have heard about a little war we’ve been taken to in the Middle East, very much against our will.


Erica Buist


We tried to let them know we didn’t want to go by mass protesting in the streets, staging demonstrations and petitions and eventually voting out the government who took us. But, we were treated like toddlers who didn’t want to put our shoes on – our shoes were shoved on and we had to go anyway. Bath time is going to be hell. Maybe this little communication breakdown makes newspaper News of the World’s decision to hack the phones of government officials less surprising; we are TRYING to TALK to you but you won’t li… – hello? They’re not listening. Right. Fine then. Hack their phones and dish some dirt. We will simply CREATE news. Remember the days when news stories were obtained through interviews?

Has communication so broken down, are we so bereft of news that we must dig illegally to depths so low? When I heard about phone hacking, the first thing that came to my mind was X Factor. Which I thought was bizarre at first. Here I was hearing about illegal phone tapping in order to get seedier stories and instead of thinking about the moral and artistic implications of this particular journalistic method, I was thinking about Simon Cowell.

Upon further inspection of the inner workings of my brain, I found it made perfect sense. Phone hacking for news is not journalism. Journalism is supposed to be a communication, reporting and commenting on the world around you. Creating an event to report and comment on is cheap and nasty. It makes journalism nothing more than a story factory. It’s like a mechanic breaking your exhaust to charge you for a new one. Just like X Factor.

Music is also a communication; it is supposed to come from a place of true inspiration or point of view; X Factor cynically, soullessly and artlessly manufactures a cheap copy of music to turn a profit. It’s like your mechanic sticking a polystyrene cup to a crisp packet and charging you to display it on your windshield. Everywhere I look, communication is either breaking down or blocked entirely. Even in silly places, like me.

My New Year’s Resolution was to take up yoga – which, miraculously, I have stuck to, even until February. Among the many benefits, one I can’t get my head around is its alleged assistance in you “communicating with your body”. If it were possible to communicate with your body, many things would be different.

If I could communicate with my body, I would never have grown wisdom teeth. I was absolutely fine with the teeth I had and thus far, after many years of often excruciating on-again-off-again pain, I have received no bonus. I can’t eat any extra things that only wisdom teeth can handle, my smile is no more attractive and I am definitely, definitely none the wiser.

If I could communicate with my body, I’d let it know it doesn’t have to prepare for children in this ludicrous monthly cycle it’s so keen on maintaining. How dare my body prepare for children without consulting me – there’s no off-switch for that. And even doing yoga twice a week has shown me no manner in which I can memo my body that it’s not necessary, that I’m all set for now.

Of course, the reason there’s no off-switch is because nature doesn’t want you opting out. Nature has put a barrier between my body and me, lest I communicate something unfavourable. Nature hopes I’ll have a baby by accident – Nature 1, me 0. Pretty sneaky, nature.

Once after a stand-up show I was criticised for “going too far” because I compared accidental pregnancy to contracting an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection). The comparison was very much in favour of the STI. Hear me out. It’s one thing not being able to communicate with your body, it’s quite another having to pretend to be happy about the messes it gets you into – accidental pregnancy is the only life-changing and terrifying affliction you are morally obliged to be happy about.

This is not the case with an STI – you’re allowed to hate your STI. People don’t judge you for wanting to get rid of your STI. When you admit you don’t like STI’s, people don’t say “You’d feel differently if it were your own STI”. This was apparently “too far” and several babies were offended. What they were doing in an underground comedy club I don’t know. I explained to them, just as I explained to the others, that I like kids and it was just a joke. I never thought I’d have to explain that after dismounting the stage at a comedy club. Communications break down again – I mean, what is a comedy show/ column/ doctor’s waiting room for if not making fun of children?

It all got me thinking about how life is a series of navigations around numerous communication breakdowns. From the large scale ones – hesitation at the brink of nuclear disarmament, China failing to understand that their taste for beef may starve the rest of us, our government ignoring us so we protest and the riot police come out and a horse gets punched in the face; to the small scale ones – signal failures on the tube, doctors’ indecipherable handwriting and the fact that you can’t lose the last 3 pounds of your 20 pound weight-loss goal because your body hangs onto it for fear of being starved to death.

And yet there’s no memo system whereby you can say “I’m not starving you, I’m trying to fit into my skinny jeans – look around you, this isn’t about survival, you just walked past a Subway for goodness sake! And you can wave to the next one from here!”

Why can’t we all just communicate the truth?!

Oh, let’s just hack everyone’s phones.

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