Consider the amount of time we spend connecting with people using a keypad. Now, estimate how much “more” effort it takes to actually have those conversations face to face. OK, now times that by a hundred and you are probably out of breath. It requires a lot more exertion you’ve got to admit. If you’ve already stopped reading on and returned to your screen, you are not alone, or are you?
Could this lead us to regard the non virtual, verbal face to face conversation with people, exchanging eye contact, having the patience, not to mention the time as retro? And as technologies continued to emerge, is it possible that it has resulted in our aversion to converse? I can admit that I respond to a text more promptly than I return a phone call. I stopped to consider this and what the future will be for the old gift of gab.
Perhaps weight gain and texting might be a stretch, but very possibly, as our lives increasingly speed up in other ways, certain aspects of it appear to have slowed down. Has all our tapping taken a toll on getting together and talking?
Only you can answer if texting is your easy way out. I must admit that it is for me. It’s a way to avoid the pratfalls of messier person-to-person conversation when you’re in a hurry.
With these questions looming large in my mind, I begin to worry. If generation next is talking by text, and the cell phone is all they’ve known, is the art of conversing and articulating our thoughts becoming obsolete?
Sleepily opening the paper this past Sunday, I am surprised and excited to see the cover story in the New York Times with the headline; The Flight from Conversation. Yikes. This is real. A professor from MIT has studied this phenomenon for years. She reports that her students r communicating 2 one another, but recoiling from real conversation. She quotes a 16 year –year old boy as saying; “Someday, someday, just not right now, I want to learn how to have a conversation”?
Are you serious? You can have a perfect SAT score and need remedial help to chat!
I decide to call Nola Beldegreen who has a company called Nola Speaks. She is a preeminent teacher and trainer, an expert in the area of public speaking, communications coaching and good friend. She turns out to be the perfect anecdote to the predicament. Nola offers her services to individuals and corporations, students in early grades to college bound. All arrive, she says, with a basic vision, which is to successfully approach their task, perform well at it, and accomplish their goal. She sends them out feeling more sure footed and self confident.
She is subtle in her approach, sort of the conversation whisperer. She senses what people need. I love her description of the verbal gym.
I know that Nola often responds to a person’s specific situational need, like someone running a big meeting or preparing for that ever important interview, the kinds of things you might get just one shot at, but I see the value in basic preventive care. More of a regular dose of conversing rather than having to cram it all in right before it takes place.
Nola followed up with me and sent me a number of great things to read and after chatting with her, my intense worry eased up. She steered me on to a course that didn’t beat up or blame the perils of technology. There are plenty of folks on either side of the divide on that issue. I did emerge with some new awareness, and, a free trial membership to the verbal gym. I can’t wait to go.
Nola helped relieve my fretting about the whole texting thing. She didn’t focus on it being a problem, she swept me up in an exhilarating conversation! Far better than any exchange I had had for a long time. I was hopeful, and reminded that the Greek philosophers were concerned that writing would pose a risk to memory. And in the 1900’s when mail was first delivered and people began to travel further distances from home, people worried about risking neighborliness.
I have no doubt that texting is here to stay. It’s definitely convenient and saves a lot of time. So if there is any wisdom to be shared, it is the adage that everything is good in moderation. I am going to build in a more balanced helping of conversation in my diet. After all, in the end, it usually comes down to portion size.
Linda Patscot has had a successful career as CEO for Pulse, a marketing research firm specializing in behavior and trend analysis for Fortune 500 companies. Her interest in politics and medicine inspired her to found BirthRoad, a consultancy helping intended parents explore 3rd Party Reproduction. She lives In Fairfield with her family where she is currently writing a book.
Linda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org