Don’t Let the Science of Technology Replace the Art of Conversation

conversationRemember the days when you’d stretch out on the bed with your Princess phone cradled on your shoulder and catch up on the day’s events with your friends? Sometimes you’d talk for hours on end, with no distracting “beeps” or “blings” in the background, only the rest of the household yelling at you to get off the phone.

Today, in our world of quick texts, emails and Facebook posts, that kind of communication seems so tedious and inefficient. Kind of like scratching your message on a cave wall or something. But should efficiency really be the goal of your communication?

In the good, old days, we communicated with people because we actually wanted to know how they were. As a result, not only did we get the “smiling snapshots” of their lives or the good stuff, but we got the bad and the ugly too. Along with the news that they had been happily married for 30 years, we also heard about the fight they had last night. Their pride in their son or daughter’s achievement was balanced by their frustration over that same kid’s perpetually messy room.

For the most part, old-school conversation also wasn’t the superficial small talk we engage in on email, text and particularly social media today. Often deep, meaningful conversations would ensue, whether we intended for them to or not. Conversations about the state of a relationship, the national debt, and, when there was no dinner to make or kids to bathe, the talk might even turn philosophical. Imagine your poor thumb muscles trying to text the meaning of life! Sure, you can pour out your heart via email, but the delayed response makes that “conversation” more of a monologue.  And one-sided depth is pretty darn shallow.

The love letter is perhaps the highest form of meaningful communication that technology has forced into extinction. Remember how your boyfriend, while he away at college or stationed on the other side of the world, used to pen beautiful words of love on whatever he had handy—whether it was a piece of monogrammed stationery his mom bought him or a soiled napkin from dinner? Those heart-eyed emoticons in your now-husband’s texts simply don’t measure up!

Not only are today’s methods of communication detrimental to our relationships, they are also bad for our backs, our spelling and yes, even our efficiency. Despite the fact that we can dash off an email or text in a split second, the written word can be far murkier than the spoken word, and after volleying messages back and forth to question, explain and explain yet again, we often end up wasting far more time than we’ve saved. As proof, we need only look at the length of that last email thread.

Certainly, technology has allowed us to connect with people more quickly and easily, and made the world a much smaller place. But there’s still no substitute for good, old-fashioned conversation. Don’t lose the art!