I never thought that a Justin Bieber song would get me thinking so deeply. Well played, Bieber.
If you haven’t heard already, Bieber’s latest song “What Do You Mean” literally calls out every single indecisive person, which is almost everyone at some point.
Though I am not a Bieber fan, I must admit that the song is not only catchy and infectious but it also draws an interesting point. What does he mean with this song? I can imagine him saying this to his current girl du jour, who is probably an indecisive person as well.
As humans we have this amazing power to manipulate our words to the point where there is a massive disconnect between what we say and how we say it, or how we portray it. I am only starting to realize how eerily close this sounds to my mom, but I suppose there is a lot of validity to it.
The truth is, it’s not just a girl thing or just a guy thing. We are all indecisive and manipulative creatures. We don’t really know what we want or what we mean. When I first heard this song, I got really defensive and offended against his lyrics: “What do you mean / when you nod your head yes, but you’re telling me no”. I kept telling myself that I don’t do that. To quote James 5:12, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’, ‘no'”. Such simple words really shouldn’t be manipulated, but the more I thought about it, I began to crumple at the fact that my ‘yes’ wasn’t truly a ‘yes’.
I spent a lot of time in immature relationships where I was incredibly immature and indecisive. I craved the attention and the “love” that a boyfriend could offer me, but I also wanted space and independence. At the beginning of relationships, when everything is so young and new, all I wanted to do was to spend every waking moment with my boyfriend. As the relationship progressed I began to feel choked and craved space. But when I felt my importance in his life begin to fade, I would start to act out and start pulling these one liners that Bieber is complaining about in his song: “You want me to stay, but you’re telling me to go.” Looking back on my experiences now, I was pretty much a nightmare. I wanted these boys to be mine, but I wanted them to make sure that they knew that I had a life. At the same time, they couldn’t have a life. And if I couldn’t have them, no one could.
I SHAKE MY HEAD at my young and naive thinking. And unfortunately, this phenomenon of opposite meaning is growing and growing.
The growing use of social media and communication through screens has perpetuated bit of a problem on our hands, literally. It is so difficult to detect sarcasm or “true meanings” when you are texting, and yet so many people still choose to communicate mostly through text. I am totally guilty of this, and I don’t think that my habits will ever change. But at the same time, I value the realness that face to face conversation brings us.
I began my studies in communications this year at school, and I have to say that it is quite fascinating to learn about how we communicate. The reason that oral culture, or speaking face to face, is regarded as “more real” is purely out of the fact that we can learn so much more from what the other person is saying. When you see the person, you can really hear their intonation: the way their voice goes up or down, added emphasis on certain words or phrases. You can also watch their body language, which tells us so much more than the words they say. You can see their facial expression change as the words are said and more words are heard. Obviously none of this is really possible when you are texting. You can’t here the inflection in their voice or see their fists clench up or eyes draw downwards. We are constantly left guessing and interpreting texts. What do they mean? Are they joking, or are they actually serious?
This is why there is such a great need for oral culture to exist. Can you imagine if wedding vows were done via text message? The thought of it sounds absurd – but yet, it seems so possible. Certain institutions, like that of marriage, still remain as something that requires face to face communication to show emotion and sincerity. The same goes with apologies, or breaking up with someone. I guess that’s why I get so upset when people apologize over a text message, or break up with someone via a Facebook message. Where is the sincerity? You just typed two words and sent them into the universe. It is so easy, almost too easy, to escape from your responsibility. I’m not saying that we shame people when they apologize in person. Apologizing in person and breaking up in person is something very, very difficult to do – I’ve been there both times. At the same time, I have been apologized to and broken up with over text messages, and they both hurt immensely. There is no closure or realness to it. When you do these things over text, even something as simple as “I’m sorry” or “it’s over” can be left to interpretation – especially when your emotions are running high and your mind is running at a million miles a minute.
All of these seems so simple, and yet we constantly see fights happening over miscommunication and misunderstandings. We need to make sure that we know exactly what we mean before we say (or post.. or text) anything. In a world where our minds are so hyperactive and is constantly being bombarded with information, we have become almost “philosophical” in a way that constantly over think everything.
It’s going to be difficult for me to dial back my over thinking mind and relying less on text conversations, but I hope that we all wake up and find a happy medium, somehow.
So thank you Justin Bieber, for spurring these thoughts inside of me. Keep having face to face conversations – they were the original way to socialize!
PS – I promise to have a Rachel Reacts up soon!! Thanks for bearing with me!
Until next time,