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Lessons in Nature: Part 2 Communication as Connection


Communication is the cornerstone of human interaction. It is how we convey our thoughts, emotions, and ideas to one another. However, over time, the way we communicate has shifted from a way to bond and build trust to being transactional. Communicating with others based on what we will gain from it. This has always bothered me about Social Media and beyond ethics it is not natural for humans to communicate this way. we are social creatures that thrive on interpersonal connections.

Loneliness is an epidemic, and it's at record levels. According to a 2023 US census, 60% of Americans feel lonelier than ever, impacting our health on a devastating level. Collectively we need to find ways to shift our mindset when it comes to why and how we communicate with each other. Instead of using communication as a transactional currency, focus on communicating with the intent to form a connection.

Let's make it the norm to communicate with others simply because we want to connect!

If we look at the ways in which animals communicate, often the communication leads to community and group bonding. Elephants are known for their excellent communication skills. Elephants have a complex system of vocalizations that they use to convey their emotions and intentions to each other. They also use body language to communicate, such as flapping their ears to show aggression or excitement. Elephants are highly social animals and communication is crucial for bonding and ensuring safe communities within their social groups.

Elephant communication plays a significant role in building and maintaining social bonds within elephant herds. By communicating, elephants strengthen their relationships, reinforce social hierarchies, and coordinate their activities. Vocalizations such as trumpeting, rumbling, and growling, along with physical touches like gentle trunk touches and entwining of trunks, help to express emotions and maintain strong social ties.

Elephant herds exhibit cooperative care, where all members collectively contribute to the well-being and protection of the group. Effective communication allows them to coordinate activities like foraging, nursing calves, defending against predators, and seeking water sources. By signaling danger through low-frequency vocalizations or seismic vibrations, elephants alert the herd to potential threats and ensure the safety of vulnerable members.

Elephants, like humans, transfer knowledge to their young to ensure the survival and adaptation of the group in different environments.

Humans can learn valuable lessons from elephants' communication; like elephants, humans can prioritize building and nurturing strong emotional connections with family, friends, and broader social networks. These bonds promote trust, cooperation, and a sense of belonging, fostering safer and more supportive communities.

Clear and effective communication is vital for human interactions. Elephants communicate clearly to their herd through a combination of vocalizations, body language, and tactile signals. Listening attentively, expressing emotions appropriately, and using non-verbal cues effectively can enhance understanding, reduce conflicts, and strengthen relationships.

Elephants exemplify the power of cooperation and collective care. Elephants learn from their cooperative behavior and develop a sense of shared responsibility within their communities. By collaborating, supporting each other, and addressing common challenges, humans can create safer and more harmonious societies.

Healthy communication is essential for both wild animals and humans. Bonding and creating safe communities using our ability to convey emotions, coordinate activities, and transfer knowledge highlights the importance of emotional bonds, effective communication, and cooperative living for both elephants and humans. Transactional communication is flawed. Only communicating with the expectation of personal gain, leaves us lonely and unsafe within our community. By understanding and emulating nature, humans can foster stronger relationships, bonded & safe communities, and enhance our overall health. Let's end the loneliness epidemic by following the lessons of nature all around us; Let's emulate the elephants.


References:

- “Communication in Elephants.” National Geographic, 20 May 2020, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/05/communication-in-elephants/.

- Public Broadcasting Service. (2023, January 8). Why Americans are Lonelier and its effects on our health. PBS. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-americans-are-lonelier-and-its-effects-on-our-health

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