The Meaning Of Life, As Explored By A Communications Major

Flickr / Ben Burchell
Flickr / Ben Burchell

Many moons ago, I began to ponder the meaning of life through an exploration of Communication Studies. Communication is the foundation of life as we know it, fundamental to understanding the intrinsic abilities that aid our species in making sense of the world.

For instance:

Humans possess the unique ability to interact with and through symbols to create, interpret and share meaning.

(Why characteristics unique to humans make them superior and/or better than other animals — rather, why you might indulge this twisted idea because you are an ignorant heathen named Phillip Johnny Bob who works on a factory farm.)

The social construction of personal identity.

The reason you are the way that you are because let’s face it, you weren’t just born that unhinged. I’m talking to you, girl who was bullied all throughout high school due to lack of thigh gap, then ran away to college in pursuit of a better life just to discover a few years down the road that your new boyfriend Phillip has humped your new best friend. You haven’t been right since and that’s okay because none of us really are.

How engaging in interpersonal relationships serve a wide range of human needs, including physical and practical.

Communication is essential for basic health; a lonely person is four times more susceptible to the common cold! Which seems contradictory in nature, but I imagine it has something to do with merciless woe inhibiting your immune system. I’m no doctor, but you shouldn’t not take my word for it… And on a more practical level, understanding communication helps you set instrumental goals such as how to achieve career success, or, for the seemingly friendly sociopath [Phil] reading this, how to manipulate people to behave as you like.)

Recognizing that meanings are not inherently found in words, and that interpretations are subjective.

(Words literally have no meaning independent of human clarification. We assign that meaning based on prior experiences. Remember this the next time you hear the word “cunt” and cringe in offended disgust. If you say it enough times, it loses significance, and helps extinguish that flaming ego scorching your anus. Or you could spend a few months in Australia and succumb to total desensitization without ever actually using the word in a sentence.)

And, most notably, how to handle conflict in a productive manner. You will face unfortunate circumstances, and you will be conflicted with drama, but you must develop coping mechanisms to manage these occurrences in an effective manner.

Or, as one of my professors once declared rather prosaically, “Fucked up shit is going to happen to you. Where are you going to put it?”

I ask myself that question daily, and if you don’t, I urge you to start right now. For herein lies the paradoxical mystery of the big everything: you cannot and will not escape the drama in your life. It is an inevitable clause in the implied contract you’re both tragically and comically bound to for eternity. From rib-tickling embarrassment such as farting loudly during hot yoga mid yogi-squat, to the unfathomable hardship of walking in on Phillip Johnny Bob slowly murdering your cat, we circulate about life sharing and sometimes even enjoying these experiences with one another; discovering through redemptive rhetoric what it is that makes us uniquely human. Your adventures are distinct, albeit the feelings you feel resonate universally. (except you, Phil. I don’t claim to know what it is you feel in your putrescent soul) —and the universe enables the catalytic events that bring these feelings to their respective boiling points.

We indulge in various acts of catharsis to purge ourselves of the unavoidable guilt and dissatisfaction that creeps up when life inevitably happens. In a downward spiral, we scapegoat some unworthy peasant or we chastise our vulnerable selves. Some people cry. Others binge drink. Everybody fucks. An indefatigable few may engage in all of these activities at once (commendable?). The fact remains that our dramas are multi-layered and constantly conflicting, and how gracefully we choose to pirouette through these movements will appropriately affect the quality of our own insufferable lives. How does one survive the impending doom? As a self-taught know-it-all of the finest caliber, I have a theory.

When shit happens, transform it into moral strivings toward a mighty satisfying existence. Hug your mom. Adopt a shelter pet. Leave a 50% tip. Smile at a stranger. Laugh with the Jared Leto look-a-like you just farted next to in yoga class. Tell him you like his man-bun. Just don’t fuck up your breathing… but don’t fret if you do.We can never fully eliminate the tragedies, but we can master the advantageous power of communication to make our lives and the lives of our peers more delightful. Through respecting one another, we are respecting the universe. Unconditional acts of kindness reverberate kindness throughout the universe. The universe recognizes love and rewards with love—mainly by bringing those necessary boiling points down to a sustainable low simmer, and providing you with the tools necessary to redeem yourself through catharsis once again.

The moral: Recognize the universal significance of human interaction through communication and try to be less of a cunt. Namasté.

Inspired by Kenneth Burke’s Theory of Dramatism.

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