I have read over and over and over again how the explosion of social media over the past decade has eroded many of our abilities to interact with each other in public. The “art of conversing” is slowly fading and being replaced with tweeting and facebook statuses. I have even seen people in the same room tweeting each other something hilarious…and not speak a word. Relationships are regulated to chat mediums, arguments transpire through updates for the world to see, and many other silly things that should require verbal communication but has now required the ability to read and interpret.
I remember going on a date this past spring in which the young lady couldn’t hold a conversation longer than five minutes, gave one word answers and feigned interest. She spent most of the time looking at her phone texting! I would have thought she was not interested in me, but she texted me the next day inquiring about hanging out again…
You all know at least one person that keeps you in stitches on the innanets but seems out of place at a game night/at a lounge/at a networking event/
in the grocery store/at the library/. They can be clever when presented with 140 characters and the ability to have time on their side but ask them to respond to a question in person and you might hear crickets…
I recently had an experience that gave me a glimmer of hope that our entire generation is not doomed to having great twitter personalities but become as dull as doorknobs in person. I hung out with a friend, in person and conversed for over three hours. I can not recall one instance in which our phones were brought out, aside from showing pics that were connected to a story.
There were no updates, no statuses, no texting, nothing! Her phone stayed in her purse and mine on the table. I ended up leaving my phone on the table and had to drive back to the restaurant to retrieve it…talk about it not being important during that interaction.
It didn’t hit me til several days later and I had to just laugh at myself. How many times recently had I been out and looked at my phone for no reason but force of habit? I asked the question on twitter (yea, yea, yea) whether or not one could converse for that long and not look at their phones…I received two responses.
The problem with the way that we are going is that body language represents 80% of communication. How someone reacts to what you said “did she laugh? is she blushing? is that dimple showing? is this topic off-limits? did she lean in towards you when you spoke? are her arms folded or open? is she looking you in the eye?” is such an important tool but is slowly becoming a back burner. It is now being replaced with emotional interpretations that may, or may not, have anything to do with what the author truly meant by their words. This happens WAY to often and leads to so many arguments.
I am not saying that conversing in person, sans technology, is the cure to all that ills our social interactions…I’m just saying that it is worth the attempt. Nothing wrong with doing things Old School sometimes…