As a communications major, I struggle to find definitions for my study that will make people take me as seriously as a doctor or lawyer. Society has downplayed this field of study, as if communication is not the essential foundation for all other majors. In order for a doctor to acknowledge the pain of a patient, communication needs to take place. In order for pilots to know the direction in which to fly, they have to be clearly directed through communication, and in order for teachers to educate our leaders of tomorrow, they have to unveil the path of knowledge through communication. My job as a communications major is to study the way people unlock, think, express, and generate thoughts, words, and actions in response to the things around them.
Our bodies play a major part in the way we communicate, and because people have yet to figure that out, we have divorce rates sky rocketing through the air and suicide messages being overlooked because they didn’t say something. In fact, 90% of our daily communication comes from non-verbal behaviors which are typically derived from the body. In order to continue to learn about the people around us and grasp a better understanding of our relationships, we must understand the body and its importance. As I continue to try and define my major to prove its importance, I usually come across the word ‘understanding.’ The body can give us insight on a person’s past, their passions, interest, culture, fears, and possible future, but only if we learn how to understand the body through its way of communicating. Our bodies are the only thing we have from the day we are born until the day we die and are an embodiment of everything that we are: good and bad. For example, many people use tattoos and other forms of body art to tell something about themselves, a journey in their life, or even express their culture. A person may have the birth or death date of a loved one somewhere on their body that they put there as a story, or they might have a symbol that communicates something about them to others. Within my culture, men, when they are born, use to get slashed with carves in their face to use as evidence of strength and empowerment within the culture. When I first came to college I wanted to show how rebellious I was in this new journey in my life, so I made an appointment the day after I arrived to get four piercings, and to this day they tell the story of my rebellion and display a little more spice in my appearance. The ways we express ourselves through our bodies, from an army sergeant getting his leg amputated to me wearing a hat to hide my bad hair day, are all forms of body communication that we can tend to overlook because we have been taught to not pay attention to the little things.
Suicide and divorce are another set of great examples where body language communication foresees their comings. Though people can appear incredibly happy on their faces, their bodies are capable of revealing completely different emotions. As a communications major I’ve taken many classes that focuses on body language and the emotions they express. For example, an unhappy spouse may laugh and smile all day long around their partner but not once will they make eye contact or engage in touch. A potential suicide victim may start slumping over, having slower body movements, or dragging their feet. Not to say that if we are to catch these body language displays that these actions wouldn’t occur, but at least we would be more alert so that we could possibly help stop them from happening.
In my opinion, the study of communication is one of the most important fields needed in our society today, not only to verbally output our emotions and thoughts but to learn the other ways we as humans communicate, including body language. As our society grows and we expand our communication platforms (such as social media), it becomes even more vital for us to learn and understand each other through ways we have not always been taught to. Becoming more acquainted with understanding communication mediums, such as the body, we discover depth within the ones surrounding us and open up a third ear to what we couldn’t hear before.
Jessica Ahenkorah is a senior at Old Dominion University, striving in her last semester to receive a degree in Mass Communications. Creativity is Jessica’s best attribute and will most likely be where her future career derives from. Her hobbies include reading, motivating others, video editing, and brand building. Her goal is to one day take her acquired skills through the doors of Nickelodeon Animation Studios where she would like to eventually land an executive position.