The change has been slow in coming, and subtle – until, it came all at once.
That is sort of the story of plenty of changes, but here’s is the one I’m talking about in this post..
In my earlier years, when I attended a conference, I would listen to a speech/presentation, then during the break, I would either find a friend, or, sometimes find a total stranger, and we would talk about the session. What the speaker said; did we agree or disagree; was it helpful? We had, you know, old-fashioned conversations. And I think it added to my learning experience greatly.
So, recently, during a break after a speaker, I noticed: everybody, and that everybody includes me, stepped out in the hallway and pulled out their/our phones. We checked e-mail, we checked web sites. Not one conversation about the content of the presentation. No, not one. Everybody I looked at (when I looked up) was on their phone. (And, of course, the vast majority of those folks on their phone were not talking “on the phone.” They were reading, and/or typing away).
Now, this is a pretty simple observation. If you don’t have conversations at times when others used to have conversations, you end up pretty conversation-deprived. You end up not interacting with real, live, present human beings. And, you sort of lose the art of being physically present with others.
And, I’ve got a hunch this is happening more and more often in place after place.
And, if this does happen, then that puts too much pressure on the few conversations we do have. The very act of having a conversation becomes more rare, and thus more stressful than it has ever been. Because our normal “interactions’ are increasingly digital, we are less connected than we were before. And, maybe, we grow to “fear” actual conversations.
News flash: though you might like to describe it as a “conversation,” an e-mail, a twitter back-and-forth, a comment stream on a blog post is not quite an actual conversation.
A conversation occurs when two human beings, talk to each other, taking turns talking and listening, noticing tone, body language – things you can’t see in a text message or an e-mail. And, a good conversation is pretty much ruined by the distraction of phone-checking.
And, I just wonder, in this conversation-deprived world, if this is part of what leads so many to feel so, and be so, isolated.
You read that some companies are instituting non-digital days. No e-mails; just face-to-face interactions for the day. Sounds like a good idea to me.