I heard a comment the other day that forced me to stop and take stock of the ramifications. I had just finished a good conversation with an acquaintance and as I was leaving he said “thanks for taking the time to talk to me”. I smiled and thanked him, but the accolade floored me. I continued to contemplate that moment throughout the rest of the day and it continued to defy all reasoning. The questions circulated through my consciousness were many but the one that kept rising to the top was this: “Have we fallen so far as a culture that having conversations have become the exception rather than the norm”? It is 2013 and we are more connected than ever before. The internet has ushered in an era of communications that allow people instant access to one another virtually anywhere on the planet. Yet, does this technology enhance our ability to communicate or does it leave us more isolated?
|Our stack of electronics during our Camp at Home week.|
Today, conversations consist of a 1 -2 line Twitter or Facebook post. It is not unheard of for people living under the same roof to text one another from one end of the house to the other, sometimes even within the same room. Yet as much as we are willing to reach out and engage in Facebook conversations with strangers, we are more leery of talking to people in public, let alone have conversations.
Humans are by nature social creatures. There is a completely different feeling when conversing over the internet versus conversing in person. Talking remotely allows a measure of security and anonymity not afforded to us when we interact face to face. The result is that people feel bolder when having a conversation remotely. They say things through a keyboard that they would never consider saying to another human face to face. Arguments are easier when you can erase and re-write your talking points before someone else can see them. You can also have some amazing discussions with people around the world. But the sense of intimacy and impact of talking to someone remotely just isn’t there. Things like body language, and non-verbal communication, pitch and tone don’t come into play over a keyboard. Try having a discussion or debate face to face and you immediately feel the difference.Moreover, have a conversation with someone that relies on technology to communicate and you will notice a distinct difference in the way they communicate over someone that interacts with people face to face on a consistent basis. They have a hard time looking you in the eye, their conversation is very disjointed almost to the point of being forced and they’re fidgety. We are literally at war within our own bodies. Our social nature is in direct conflict with our recent need to rely on remote communications and it becomes visible when those that aren’t used to communicating are forced to.
Technology has given us the ability to reach out and communicate with loved ones and total strangers alike across the planet. But it should never be a replacement for human interaction. So go out and have a conversation with someone today, no matter how uncomfortable it feels.