The Death of Conversation: “R U There?”

The Charger Bulletin

By Kathy Forkin – Director of Career Services

I am wondering what is happening to the art of conversation. The other day, I saw two students sitting together in the cafeteria having lunch. That is not unusual; however, both of them were texting on their telephones and not speaking to each other. How sad. I was enjoying having lunch with my mother at a local restaurant. Seated next to us were a mother, father, and their young toddler son. “How nice,” we commented to each other; a family enjoying an afternoon meal. Soon, I realized the father was not speaking to his family. Throughout the entire meal, the father spoke on his cell phone. He was not a doctor on an emergency call, because I could hear him discussing football with his friend. What a missed opportunity to have quality family time. This situation has become commonplace in today’s society.

Why do we feel that we have to be “connected” at all times? What has happened to people just going for a walk? I see people walking their dogs and speaking on their cell phones. I appreciate those signs that state “Please turn your cell phone off” while you are in the office, in line, etc. I really do not care to listen to another’s conversation on what they are cooking for supper, or who is picking up the laundry.

I feel sorry for the cashiers at the grocery store. Here they are standing for maybe 7 to 8 hours a day. They have to experience some customers completely ignoring them because they are having such an important phone call that needs to be finished. They just pay their bill, grab their groceries, and walk out of the store. I do not do this; I always make eye contact and ask the cashier “How are you today?”

You would be amazed at the reaction from them and the stories about their families that they have shared with me.

I have tried texting. My one and only attempt was sending a message that stated “xxrrgguu.” I have no idea why anyone had a problem understanding that message! I understand that some people have 1,000-2,000 text messages a month on their cell phone bills. Doesn’t anyone vocalize with each other anymore? I admit to even receiving email  messages that have utilized text lingo.

Have you seen the new cell phones today with the apps? I left my cell phone in a classroom and it was there for 3 days before I noticed it was missing. I told my children how surprised I was that it was still there. Their reaction-why would someone steal a $25 cell phone from Walmart? My cell works just fine for calling 911 when I need to. Those new apps-I will only buy one of those phones when it can start my car for me, do the laundry and iron my clothes.

Now we have Facebook. Do people really have 1,050 friends? Could you call them up and tell them your car broke down and you need a ride? Will they lend you money to pay your bills? Will they bring you chicken soup when you are ill? Have you ever heard them SPEAK? On television, I saw a local restaurant that now has flat screen televisions at all of their booths. You can believe that I will not be going to that place.

We all need a vacation from electronics. Turn your cell phone off (not just on vibrate); turn off and WALK AWAY from your computer. Go for a walk (without your iPOD) and just enjoy the scenery. Smile at people when you walk by: hey will return the smile. Call a friend to meet for a cup of coffee. Sit and talk to each other and enjoy the satisfaction of being in the presence of an actual human being. These are where memories are made, friendships are renewed, and your spirits are uplifted. So as they say: kthxbai!