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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Parallel Sign Of The Times

Parallel Sign Of The Times
By Silvia Uribe

At eighteen, my grandma spent her afternoons sitting in a balcony sewing and watching people pass by. In the crowd was the 26-year-old handsome man who 2 years later became her husband. Their contact was limited to a few glances through the balcony's bars and letters they exchanged with the help of one of my grandma's maids. In the early part of the 20th Century, communicating by letter was a sign of the times.

Their verbal communication never went further than "buenos días" or "hasta luego" until the day he came to her house to talk with her parents about his intentions to marry her. I always thought that they were so contained and repressed that they were forced to marry a complete stranger. Little did I know the wealth of opportunities to fall in love that they had literally at their fingertips.

Using only written communication they figured their compatibility to the point of making the decision to get married. Later they had a family, and they were in love with each other until my grandpa died 22 years later. How were they able to accomplish all this? It was like a riddle that I was not able to decipher until I realized the secret of their communication method - efficiency!

All BS aside, they only wrote about the important things they wanted to say. Pouring their hearts out, they expressed the way they felt about each other and about life. They took the risk to tell each other about plans and dreams, and they shared about past and present. If you ever tried describing your character and your feelings in writing, you would probably agree that it is like an honesty exercise. This, in return, gets the reader to respond in a similarly candid way.

Conversely, our conversations today either by telephone or in person have become quite inefficient and irrelevant. In an attempt to not be intrusive, we refrain ourselves from asking important questions that could provide crucial information about our person of interest. In trying to always be politically correct, we rarely touch on the "sticky" issues that could give us a very good idea of the values, beliefs, and ethics of that person. And, since immediate gratification is over-rated, we have somehow decided that sex is the infallible tool that will ultimately bring us together, right?


Various studies on US Divorce show that the rate of divorce in America after the first marriage is from 41% to 50%, after the second marriage is from 60% to 67%, and after 3 marriages the US divorce rate is from 73% to 74%. (The mere fact that we have multiple marriage stats proves that our communications, as well as our negotiation skills, are not as effective as they should be.)

However, inadvertently, we have stepped back to my grandparents' communication system. A sign of our times, the internet, dangerous in many levels if not used with precaution, has given us the opportunity to meet people that might very well be at the other side of the world. We are forced to pace these relationships for obvious reasons. Efficiency in our communications is again a must if we are to understand each other. When emailing or chatting, people seem to be more willing to ask those important questions in a casual way. As a result, they can actually determine whether there is understanding and chemistry between the two. How exciting!

In other words, the Internet might have resurrected the art of good, effective communication. Maybe that's why so many use eHarmony,, or other sites of the sort. So, my single friends, next time that you meet someone that sparks your interest, be it in person or online, remember to use your time wisely by making your conversation relevant and entertaining. And, pace yourself. These two somewhat easy steps might just be what you need to close the "real deal."

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at

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