As part of the Kennedy Clan, Ms Shriver has iconic quasi-royalty status in the USA – would that be fair to say? I don’t remember reading much about her back over in Europe, but she has had her share of press in the past. Throughout, I thought she stayed classy and polished. Now she’s encouraging us to take another look at communication and … pausing.
Here are some of her words from last year’s address at the Annenberg School in Southern California.
We’re communicating like never before — across borders and time zones — on platforms, devices, computers, tablets, phones, apps, games, you name it.
Communicating 24/7– wired and wirelessly — talking, texting, and tweeting — trending and friending — to the other side of the room and the other side of the planet — spitting out the old, in order to consume the new.
Every minute you’re awake, you’re reaching out beyond yourself — waaay out beyond. It feels like the entire universe is an extension of your own nervous system.
You communicate instantly, automatically, and effortlessly. For you…communicating is like breathing.
Even today at my age, people come up to me all the time asking, ‘Maria, What are you doing? What’s your job? Are you going back into television? Are you writing another book? Are you gonna run another women’s conference? What are you doing?’
It’s like what we’re doing at this precise moment doesn’t even exist. Everyone is focused on the next thing. Everyone is racing to the Next Thing.
Well, I got caught up in that for a really long time — so much so, that I could never really enjoy what I WAS doing, because I was always worried about what I was going to be doing.
I tell you all this, because I know right now everybody’s asking you those same questions: “What are you gonna do after graduation? Do you have a job? Where will you be working? How much are they paying? Where are you going? Where will you be living? Who are you seeing?” Oh, my God — so many questions!
And here you are: sitting there ready to hit the Fast Forward button and find out the answers. I get that. I was just LIKE you: I lived on Fast Forward.
But today, I have one wish for you. Before you go out and press that fast forward button, I’m hoping – I’m praying – that you’ll have the courage to first press the pause button.
I’m asking you to learn how to pause, because I believe the state of our communication is out of control. And you? I believe you have the incredible opportunity to fix it.
You have the power, each and every one of you, to change the way we as a nation speak to one another. I truly believe you can change our national discourse for the better.
You have the chance to change the way we talk to one another, what we read on the Web and newspapers and magazines, what we see on TV, what we hear on radio. You can help us change the channel.
I’m hoping you young men and women dare to bring change to our community by changing our communication.
PAUSE — and take the time to find out, what’s important to you. Find out what you love, what’s real and true to you — so it can infuse and inform your work and make it your own.
PAUSE — before you report something you don’t know is absolutely true, something you haven’t corroborated with not just one, but two sources, as I was taught. And make sure that they’re two reliable sources.
PAUSE — before you put a rumor out there as fact. Just because you read it or saw it on TV or the Web — no matter how many times — doesn’t mean its true. Don’t just pass on garbage because you want to be first. There’s no glory in being first with garbage.
PAUSE — before you hit the “send” button and forward a picture that could ruin someone’s life — or write something nasty on someone’s Wall because you think it’s funny or clever. Believe me, it isn’t.
PAUSE — before you make judgments about people’s personal or professional decisions.
PAUSE — before you join in and disparage someone’s sexuality or intellectual ability.
PAUSE — before forwarding the untrue and inflammatory tidbits that have made it so difficult for would-be public servants and their families to step up and lead.
Feel your strength and your vulnerability. Acknowledge your goodness, and don’t be afraid of it. Look at your darkness — and work to understand it, so you’ll have the power to choose who you’ll be in the world.
Women: look at your toughness and your softness. You can and should make room for both in your life. The world needs both.
Men: find your gentleness, and wrap it into your manliness. You, too, can make room for both. The greatest men do.
Oh, how this world needs you — young men and women with the guts to pause and acknowledge where you’re at and how you got here — and then to change course if you need to — and trust me, sometimes you’ll need to change course! But know you’ve got the strength to do it.
So today, as you head out into the Open Field of life, keep your mind open, keep your heart open. Don’t be afraid to be afraid. Courageous people often are afraid. In fact, that’s why they need courage in the first place!
Read the full text or watch the video here.