“We are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places — in politics, commerce, romance and friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation.”
She is making a very valid, true point. I see this day in and day out here in London with around 85% of people I see on the tube looking down at a screen. Couples in restaurants looking at screens, not each other. People on the street running into you because they look down. I actually value conversation and I find that perhaps this is one thing that is challenging to some people here. Conversations are rare, especially in the city. So what has happened to the conversation? I’m not for sure. I think that the surge of technology like she mentions is partly to do with things, but also the fact that most of the conversations we do have tend to be short, and not directly related to who we are as people but more related to what it is that we want, need or ask for i.e. in a cafe or restaurant; at a shop or on the bus.
Here in London I feel that most of the conversations I have had tend to be with foreigners, not British people, but Italians, Spanish, Argentine, Americans, etc. These people are looking for conversation here it seems, and also I have noticed, many have a lack of smart phones glued to their hands. That is maybe not directly related, but if your plan is to practice your English, then conversations are a key element of that. I’ve found many people here telling me that my accent is easy to understand, and that most British accents are not. Word to that. I feel the same way about American accents now. As gross as some can be, we can still be understood by most people (perhaps this is given to the wide spread of American t.v.?) and there are indeed many British people whom I can’t seem to understand at all. One girl in particular at work I constantly ask her to repeat herself.
All in all most people just want to be listened to and feel the response from the person they are talking to that they hear them. Without any response, verbal or non-verbal, then we feel like our words are meaningless and unnecessary so we resort back to not talking, or texting. Not that by my writing these words here is it going to change society or the world, but I make a stand for myself. I want to talk to you and listen. I don’t want a smart phone. Any online work, emails, etc can wait until I’m home. I love being disconnected. And if you want to walk around with your head down, that is your problem, not mine. Don’t come complaining to me about people not listening to you. Don’t walk into me on the street. Watch where you are going. Pay attention to your friends and lovers at dinner and lunch, please. Honestly nothing makes me more upset. So called “quality time”. Do you think your grandparents ever sat down to dinner together and just looked at their plates and didn’t say a word to each other? This is what it looks like when you see these scenes in a restaurant.