“O Conversation, Conversation…Wherefore art thou, Conversation?”

Technology is killing the art of conversation. More specifically, those hand-held devices that so many seem to be permanently attached to, are robbing us of our power of speech.

We don’t know what to say. The awkward silence is palpable and yet we still don’t know what to say. So, we retreat to our beloved and secure screen of wonder. Once there, it would seem that our fingertips have no shortage of things to say. Ironic, isn’t it?

If we do happen to have a person in front of us, we’re unable to tear ourselves away from the screen long enough to make eye contact, thereby letting her know we’re listening. We’re so dependent on these little devices that we’re unable to put them away for fear of losing, our lives. “My whole life is on there!” We can’t even bear the thought of turning them off lest we miss some important, though usually inconsequential update. Let’s face it; we’re dealing with an addiction—A rude one.

As a result of this dependency, people’s conversation skills are suffering.  We’re regressing back to monosyllabic grunts and sounds. “Huh?” “Whaaa?” “Mmm…” “Eh?” We often don’t even hear someone who’s addressing us because we’re so deep into our own little world.

But we need conversation. We need small talk. It’s a way to break the ice. We need to understand that there’s only so much business you can do behind a screen. There’s only so much of a relationship you can cultivate online. Eventually, you’re going to have to meet the human on the other end. We will always need to cultivate and nurture relationships, business or otherwise. And, if we don’t teach children about the art of conversation, how will they communicate with their elders, let alone their peers?

As with any addiction, the first step is admitting there’s a problem. Then, we must be mindful of our actions and adjust our behaviour accordingly. Does that mean we need to go cold turkey? I don’t know, but we need to do something.

We can’t allow our ability to engage someone face to face become extinct. As humans, we must evolve, but we must also adapt. Our social networks depend on it.

 

 

 

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