The Essential Skills for Being Humane- Communication?

Changing Culture, can we re-learn?

How do Your Ancestors Show Up in Your Life?

“What’s your favorite unimportant thing about you?”

Today, I woke up to a piece in The New York Times that delved into the
essence of being human. The article in itself spoke about the need to
develop social skills that make us more human. Yet in essence being human
involves developing social skills that are driven by being a great

‘Many years ago, patent lawyers at Bell Labs were trying to figure out
why some employees were much more productive than others. They explored
almost every possible explanation — educational background, position in
the company — and came up empty. Then they noticed a quirk. Many of the
most productive researchers were in the habit of having breakfast or
lunch with an electrical engineer named Harry Nyquist. Nyquist really
listened to their challenges, got inside their heads, brought out the
best in them. Nyquist, too, was an illumination.’

‘ If we are going to accompany someone well, we need to abandon the
efficiency mindset. We need to take our time and simply delight in
another person’s way of being. I know a couple who treasure friends who
are what they call “lingerable.” These are the sorts of people who are
just great company, who turn conversation into a form of play and
encourage you to be yourself. It’s a great talent, to be lingerable.’

‘Don’t be a topper. If somebody tells you he is having trouble with his
teenager, don’t turn around and say: “I know exactly what you mean. I’m
having incredible problems with my own Susan.” You may think you’re
trying to build a shared connection, but what you are really doing is
shifting attention back to yourself.’

‘I have learned something profound along the way. Being openhearted is a
prerequisite for being a full, kind and wise human being. But it is not
enough. People need social skills. The real process of, say, building a
friendship or creating a community involves performing a series of
small, concrete actions well: being curious about other people;
disagreeing without poisoning relationships; revealing vulnerability at
an appropriate pace; being a good listener; knowing how to ask for and
offer forgiveness; knowing how to host a gathering where everyone feels
embraced; knowing how to see things from another’s point of view.’

‘People want to connect. Above almost any other need, human beings long
to have another person look into their faces with love and acceptance.
The issue is that we lack practical knowledge about how to give one
another the attention we crave. Some days it seems like we have
intentionally built a society that gives people little guidance on how
to perform the most important activities of life.’

Then we ask a fundamental question… Does it essentially mean being a
great communicator makes you more human?

Being a great communicator can make you more human in the sense that
effective communication often involves empathy, active listening,
understanding others’ perspectives, and expressing emotions and thoughts
clearly. These qualities are fundamental aspects of human connection and
understanding. When you communicate effectively, you engage with others on
a deeper level, fostering meaningful connections and relationships. In
this way, mastering the art of communication can contribute to a more
empathetic, understanding, and relatable human presence.

Can we then postulate that new media has made us not too good as
communicators and hence less human?

New media has undeniably transformed the way we communicate, introducing
new platforms and formats for interaction. While new media can enhance
communication in various ways, it also presents challenges. The fast-paced
nature of online communication, characterized by text messages, social
media posts, and instant messaging, can sometimes lead to
misinterpretation, misunderstandings, and lack of nuance. In this context,
some argue that the immediacy and brevity of new media have the potential
to make us less patient, less empathetic, and, in essence, less human in
our interactions (levels of loneliness are on the rise).

There are many factors driving the numbers, the significant factor being
the proliferation of new media spaces (VR/AR/XR), where, in a way, new
cultural habits are slowly evolving in our lifetime with some exciting

Let’s delve into our local debate: Mr.Beast.

To my kind followers (please subscribe to my Substack account):

MrBeast is an American YouTuber known for his stunts, challenges, and
philanthropy. He has over 100 million subscribers on YouTube, making him
one of the most popular YouTubers in the world. MrBeast often gives away
large sums of money in his videos, such as $10,000 to random people on the
street or $50,000 to the winner of a challenge. He has also donated
millions of dollars to charity. MrBeast’s videos are popular because they
are often creative, funny, and heartwarming. He is known for his
outlandish stunts, such as tipping a pizza delivery person $10,000 or
giving away a free house. He is also known for his challenges, such as
trying to eat 100 pizzas in 24 hours or staying in a solitary confinement
room for 50 days.

Then Mr.Beast decides to do some work in Kenya, in collaboration with a
local NGO… (Come to think of it he probably was expecting to go viral
with his work – Kenyans can be something else online) The critics,
naysayers, and experts have come out guns blazing… (Many did not even
know who Mr.Beast was in the first place)

It’s baffling to them how boreholes can be dug without the usual fanfare,
official launches, and the associated politics. Questions arise: Where
were the MCAs to demand additional funds from the contractors? Why didn’t
KURA/KERRAA conduct soil sampling and lab tests in South Africa? And what
about the meetings in Naivasha where budgets are padded for personal

Additionally, there are online activists who criticize politicians but
disappear when it’s time to take real action on the streets. Many don’t
even know the names of their local MCAs and have never attended any Annual
Development Plan meetings, deliberately scheduled on weekdays to deter
public participation. Those who do attend are often paid proxies, passing
projects that benefit the politicians’ personal interests.

Contrastingly, Many others are wondering what the hullabaloo is all
about… the younger generation, represented by figures like Mr. Beast,
operates differently. They are not swayed by the day’s political
shenanigans. One can only imagine the meticulous workflow behind Mr.
Beast’s projects – the research, the quiet spaces where decisions are
made. How did they select each project? Who conducted the research?
Strangely, the local media and political leaders fail to notice these
efforts, leaving many to wonder why such impactful initiatives go
unnoticed in our own community.

That came out clearly about the cultural, thinking, and community
differences we have in our country and the huge multigenerational issue
brought about by the way we interact with the media….

Now I can only imagine how the children in those schools feel and, in
essence, will go to their homes and tell the boomer parents that they
would like to be YouTubers like Mr.Beast and the heart attacks and tears
many of the parents will be undergoing to try and understand how their
kids want to be online sensations.

Does that difference drive a communication challenge and ultimately make
us less human?

(We just made Mr.Beast YouTube – Philanthropy channel go Viral)

I am Proud to be a Kenyan…..

Signed Susan Ngatia

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