Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Lost Art of Conversation

Do you remember that song from the 90's by Boyz II Men, Water Runs Dry?  It's starts out with, "We don't even talk anymore..." 

I think of this lyric when I think of all of the texting, social media, and emailing that goes on daily in our society.  At the risk of sounding like a 90 year old woman (with all due respect to the 90 year old women out there who are reading this post), I can't help but wonder how detrimental this lack of conversation is to our relationships, families, culture, and society.

Remember when we used to talk?

I remember when my family first got a computer (which was the same year I got my first CD player).  I was in the 8th grade.  Chat rooms were all the rage, and I loved getting in chat rooms and talking to people, mostly boys, about pretty superficial and not-a-good-idea-to-discuss-with-a-stranger-in-a-chat-room topics.  Thankfully I never had any problems, by God's grace.  There was a sort of ease to being able to "chat" without actually having to "talk" to the person.  I could think about what I wanted to say first instead of being put on the spot.  I didn't have to be a good conversationalist.  I could just be a good writer.

Little did we know that it would go from bad to worse over the years.  Now, you can't even print some coupons from sites online without receiving the code via text.  If you use your cell phone for just simply making calls, people look at you like you are from another planet.  If you don't have a cell phone at all (gasp!) you are even more strange!

I know, I know.  There are some good things about all of this.  I agree.  There are some good things about all of this.  There are more ways to connect with others and texting, for example, helps those who otherwise could not communicate at any given moment.  There is much more information and even a sense of community that has been created through Facebook and blogs.  However, I think much of it has gotten out of hand.

There have been times when I was going to meet a friend somewhere, and we had only been communicating via Facebook or email.  When I couldn't find her or was running late I realized that I didn't actually have her phone number.  I had never actually called her.  I felt like a bad friend, actually.  I don't think there is anything wrong with using email to set plans or communicate, but should it be the only way I converse?

There have been other times when I opted to email someone instead of call them because it would be quicker, and I could check it off of my list.  Also I do enjoy being able to keep up with people through Facebook.  Of course, there are times when this is fine, I think.  For example, if I just have a quick question, and it is midnight I think emailing the person instead of calling would be best.  Also there are some friends that you really are never going to have a phone conversation with and you might not see very often.  Facebook comes in handy for this and helps people stay connected at least on some level.

However, I have noticed in myself that it comes down to my motives.  What's going on in my heart?

People are busy.  I get busy.  Face to face conversation is not always an option. Still I just can't help but think that I never want to be too busy to actually pick up the phone and call someone or sit and skype with someone at the very least.  Am I too task-oriented at times to be a good friend and actually talk with another person to hear their voice and understand them more clearly than I probably would if I were just reading their status update?

I really wonder if this next generation has learned how to have a healthy conversation that requires them to thoughtfully produce words on the spot while engaged in dialogue with another human being.  It seems that almost everyone under that age of 25 texts more than any other method of communication.

Are we avoiding each other or perhaps avoiding connecting on a deeper, more emotionally involved level by relying on texting, emailing, Facebook?

Is there a false sense of friendship, community, and belonging that results from this form of relationship?

Furthermore, how does this effect the way I converse with the Lord?

These are some of the questions I have when it comes to the way we interact in our country and world.  Again, there are many good atributes of technology, but still I do prefer the more traditional art of conversation either on the phone, through skype (okay, so that is not really traditional), or in person.

And by the way, I do not have texting.  I don't want to pay for another way for people to not have to call me, and I cannot stand the fact that so many people text while they are driving!  If you text me, it will get lost somewhere among all of the waves that are flowing through our bodies because of all of the wireless connections we cannot escape.  I will not know you texted me, and you will think I don't want to be your friend anymore which is most likely not true. 

What do you think about this?  I would love to hear from others...

End rant.

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