I once argued with my communication professor when we were discussing a theory about the motives people use to communicate. It’s been a long time now, but the theory identified the different motives people use, and why, and how they communicate, etc. What I took issue with, was that this theory doesn’t measure motive by some objective means, but instead through self-report of the communicator. So my thought was, what if the communicator is identifying their motive as the most acceptable choice? Or, (gasp) doesn’t understand their true motive for communicating at that moment? Dr. Professor looked at me like I had three heads and his response was something like “Blah, blah, of course they know…blah, blah, who else would know…fade into the sound of Charlie Brown’s teacher…” Like it is totally outside the realm of possibility that a person not know something or cover up their true intentions.
Well, congratulate me because I just disproved (unproved?) a theory. I have been getting a People Magazine subscription for years now. My husband got it as a gift (and to save himself money on the cover price because I bought every issue) when we were first married and it has auto renewed itself every year for a decade. I would soooo look forward to this in my mailbox every week. I mean, the weeks it was late, I would all but go to the post office and rummage around in the bags. I remember once in grad school a classmate asked me why I read it. He was like, “no offense, but you don’t seem like the type.” And I was kind of embarrassed and I was trying to think of why I love it and I couldn’t really pinpoint the reason. I suggested out loud that I love the book and movie reviews, and the recipe and…everything seemed kind of lame when said out loud. Worst part is, I always skip the cover stories about Jennifer Aniston and Brangelina, or JLo, because I really couldn’t be bothered. So why did I like the magazine so much?
Now I finally know. I “inherited” the habit from my mother. Since I can remember, she read this magazine and would give it to me to read when she was finished. As soon as I was an adult, I started getting it myself, and we would call each other and trade stories we both had just read from the latest issue. When either of us was behind, we would say – “no spoilers!” but one of us would spoil it anyway, and the other still read the story. Since my mother is gone, I have been too busy to read anymore. I have a huge pile of them sitting by the bed that I never read. And yet, I keep them in order all neat, waiting patiently for me to get a moment. Then, whenever I have a moment I think of something better to do with that time. I’ve realized that I only read that magazine because of the part it played in my relationship with my mother. I thought I loved the magazine. Now, each issue is like an old episode of The Real Housewives of Wherever that stays on my DVR until the DVR fairy erases it to make room for something more interesting.
I’ve considered aloud that I will cancel the subscription, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it quite yet. Even my husband, who used to complain about the charge every time is like, “Don’t cancel, what if you miss it? It’s not that much.” Even he knows why this is an important decision for me. My point in all this is, I was right (big surprise) that we all don’t necessarily understand the motives we have when we communicate, or when we choose certain media to communicate through. So, in my free time, I believe I should write to a big communication journal, or send the Nobel committee an email or something. Debunking an old, well-supported theory has got to be big news, right? Message me now if you want an autograph of this post before the awards committee arrives, because then I will be way too busy.