“Josh, no one uses the telephone any more. It is ancient technology and it would be better if it died.”
The universe must not have wanted us to have that conversation because in the midst of my reply both of our cellphones rang but we responded differently to them.
He let his call go to voice mail and then replied via text message while I chose to answer mine.
“Don’t you screen your calls?”
I nodded my head at him and then asked him to hold on a moment because thanks to the magic of Caller ID I knew that it was my daughter on the line.
He mouthed goodbye and said he had to get to back to work so I waved goodbye and watched him walk to his car.
It probably took him all of my five minutes to wander from the restaurant out to the parking lot. By the time he opened the door I had finished my conversation.
The reason my daughter called was to find out who was picking her up and where she should meet them.
If we had communicated via text messaging it probably would have taken at least a dozen texts to answer and confirm all of the necessary details.
The telephone conversation covered it all in less than two minutes and without any confusion.
Have Electronic Devices Killed Conversation?
Had my friend and I continued our conversation I would have told him I routinely screen my calls and I often communicate via texting.
I also use the telephone on a regular basis because there are moments where texting is far less efficient and useful than a short conversation.
But the thing that really prompted this post was something I saw at my daughter’s soccer game.
It was a group of teenagers sitting together but no words were being exchanged because they were all participating in a group chat.
This isn’t the first time I have seen that happen but something about that moment made me wonder what sort of affect electronic devices are having upon conversation.
I spent the rest of that day and many in between watching people to see how they were communicating with each other and most of what I saw were faces looking down at keyboards and not at other faces.
It was enough for me to think there is probably something to it. There is a correlation between what kinds of conversation are taking place when electronics are part of the mix
Nonetheless I would caution you to take my unscientific survey as gospel because I don’t have hard numbers or any studies to cite as proof that electronic devices are killing conversation.
This Is Not A Good Thing
Ask my family and friends and they’ll tell you I am a heavy user of my phone and computer. I like my electronics and use them for personal and professional needs.
But I know how to put them down and how to speak with people when I am on the telephone or face-to-face.
I am beginning to wonder if that is a sign of age or if conversation is a dying art.
If you and I are connected there is a very good chance we have exchanged emails and or text messages but there is also a good chance you’ll find me on the other end of the phone.
There is a personal touch that comes with hearing a voice and as mentioned it helps prevent misunderstanding.
When you have verbal cues you don’t spend extra time analyzing the words because you are not sure if the message you got is supposed to be sarcastic, angry or sad.
I am interested in having more balance between the two mediums than what I think I am seeing today.
What about you? What do you think?