Is conversation dead in a digital world?

Years ago, companionship and conversation were important part of society. People prized dinner parties because they allowed one to engage in conversations. Conversations enrich our minds and our lives.

The art of communication has always been central to human civilization and its development. Communication is also what keeps families, businesses and societies together. Communication is all about staying in touch, conveying our emotions and thoughts and exchanging views and opinions.

Communication and its many facets – conversation, discussions even confrontations, is by default a method of sharing and storing information. We talk to one another mostly to obtain or share information, whether personal or professional.

Yet in today’s wired world, where smartphones, tablets and computers have replaced information gathering and sharing, the very DNA of communications has changed. How many of us are check our smartphones more often than saying five words to the person seated next to us?  How many of us can check Facebook status every few minutes, share a status update and Tweet an opinion, do not have the time to spend one hour in casual conversation with our colleagues, wives or husbands?

None of us have been able to escape the great tech onslaught on the art of communication. We no longer prize conversation above solitude, we no longer look forward to gatherings where we can make small talk. Parents and children do not talk to each other at the dinner table anymore ; everyone has their own little corners, wired to their head sets and their smart phones or computers.

Communication also meant caring and sharing. Now when we want to share something, we share it on Facebook.

There’s nothing wrong with technology – it has been and will continue to be amazing and empower us to reach the world right from our chair but what we can see is that we are grasping the tech apparatus wrong in the way we perceive it.

Technology has also almost killed off that great art of communication – writing letters. In days gone by, young romance started with a love letter. As the romance progressed, so did the language, the poetic prose and the treasured words of the love letter. Some would scent it and write it on treasured stationary. Today,  young lovers stay in touch via Snapchat or WhatsApp.

Communication is the most important part in any partnership, be it a business relationship or a personal relationship – every marriage calls for a sound exchange of view ideas and thoughts. Keeping the channels of communication open is vital as they say, for a good partnership and a sound marriage.

The office is often where we spend a greater part of the day – how much do we communicate with each other? When I was working back in the corporate world, before internet days, tea room breaks were much looked forward to. We would sip our tea and catch up each other. Today, I believe some choose to send e mails to their colleagues in the next door cubicle rather than meet in person.

Human beings thrive on connecting with each other, whether for work or for leisure. We are wired for the company of others and do not do well in isolation. Even though we know that communicating is vital, how do we keep our communication channels open – it isn’t just technology that keeps us away from communicating as we should but also the fact that we lead busy lives packed with things to do. Children have school and classes – their spare time is taken up with iPads and iPods. They no longer sit at the table to have conversation with parents.

Husbands lead busy careers and so do wives. When we come home after work, our smartphones enable us to stay connected so that we can check e mails and stay connected. Updating social media and scrolling down the status of others on social media, keeps most of us occupied even though we might be at home.

Yet it is up to us to find the time to connect with each other, especially those closet to us , our children and our spouses – worthy of mention are our ageing parents who treasure the time spent in conversation. They cherish the time we find to spend with them – back in their day, people made conversation and found opportunities to engage in enlightening communication!

A great number of problems at the office can be sorted out if everyone found the time and the ability to sit down and discuss – there’s a great deal of conflict resolution in a smile, a gesture of openness and a tone of voice expressed in one to one meetings than in e mails or telemeetings. Non-verbal communications or body language can speak a thousand words in building sound relationships than e mails can – so even before you open your mouth , you may have already disarmed your critics with one gesture and a big smile.

Setting aside a time everyday to connect is the best – could be early in the morning or maybe the last thing at night. Most believe that this kind of space is best kept for casual conversation and not to have lengthy, heavy weight discussions. It can also be a time to share with each other the day’s events or activities.






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