The Art of Conversation

Since I began blogging initially for the municipal election back in 2006; I’ve met a tremendous number of people with experiences to share and stories to tell.

While I note the irony while I blog , tweet and cross post this entry to Facebook; it was the personal face-to-face contact with the people who make up our great city that enriched my own experience.  

In a day and age whereby communication has been diminished to 150 words or less; or updates on the status of painting one’s toe nails – the art of communication is being lost – along with common decency and respect.

I will not stand on a pulpit and preach as some are apt to do, for I am equally guilty of this from time to time as I fire-off an emotionally charged response before considering the impact it may have.  In the electronic age, it is all too easy to launch a missive – factually based or not – and continue to play Bejeweled or Farmville oblivious to the impact our hastily written words have had.

But standing face-to-face with someone sharing their thoughts and beliefs; engaging in mutual understanding, or friendly debate – nothing comes close to this.  Body language, facial expressions, a light touch of a hand – all add meaning and depth to the near extinct art form of conversation.

Sitting in one of my communication studies classes two years ago; the discussion led to then popular Microsoft Messenger and the impact that was having upon social skills development.  When asked how I prefer to communicate, I simply said I saw no use for Messenger.  If I wanted to talk to a friend or family member, I’d call them.  Or better yet, spend a couple of hours on their front porch sipping our choice of beverage, and saying hello to neighbours.

My statement was met with the expected derision – but for me, there is something to be said for the warm welcoming voice of a loved one or friend over cold impersonal text on a glaring screen void of any emotion.

Throughout the semester I observed how my classmates interacted with each other and discussed the issues (if you can call it that).  I was astounded by what I was hearing for it may just as well have been typed in a moment of anger and sent off without thought.

Pervasive in the discussion was this sense of entitlement; that theirs was the only opinion that was right; and everyone was wrong – laced with quick little quotes from philosophers to justify their statement.  Plain and simple, end of debate.

Of course, I do not blame such applications as Facebook, Twitter, MSN, or Yahoo! – they are only a tool.  The over reliance of these tools, in my opinion, is what is causing the slow and gradual breakdown social interaction over the past decade.

If you disagree with me, that’s okay.  I’ll just Tweet your phone number to all my followers and have them call you.

But I’m sure you’d prefer if we sat down over a nice hot coffee or iced tea and actually listen to one another.

2 responses to “The Art of Conversation

  1. I believe anyone of the parents that interact with their teenage daughters knows this all to well .And it is taking its toll on family interaction .Just ask the grandparents of these kids and you get an idea what the kids are missing out on a bit of life as a result .The tool becomes a crutch that they won’t realize til later in life.

  2. One of my philosophy Profs thinks the internet is further de-personalizing human society – to which I say, thank god for that! As I get older I seem to eschew social interaction, sometimes I feel just like John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind” who says “I don’t much like people and they don’t much like me.” …not that I would equate myself with John Nash in any way except that I’m better lookin’.
    I just don’t like people – I’ve heard all the lies and all the bullshit before, ho-hum. Being with most people is like Groundhog Day.
    Philosophy students, art students, music, theater, are the exception to my general rule of avoiding social circumstances – I LOVED the social-academic atmosphere of the ‘Grad House’ on campus, until they destroyed it, of course. Funny how they destroy everything good – like Boblo, for example. I loved Boblo as a kid.
    Anyway, the internet is de-personalizing because people want to be less personal. You may regard that as unfortunate but I think it’s a blessing.

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