Looking down at a handheld device, rather than into the eyes of your
conversational mate, isn't merely rude; it also sabotages the exchange of
nonverbal cues that help sustain rich and meaningful attachments.
"We're all facial coders," says Dan Hill, founder and president of the market
research firm Sensory Logic. "Humans have more facial muscles than any
other species on the planet, and we're hardwired to read all 43 of them.
Half the brain is devoted to processing visuals. To not use that ability is to
simply throw away precious real estate."
Reading others' faces and emotions is a key component of empathy,
and some argue that the ability or willingness to empathize is on the decline.
In a study conducted this year at the University of Michigan,
researchers found a 40 percent drop in empathy (as measured by
questions about feeling concern for the less fortunate and putting
oneself in anothers' shoes) among college students from 1979 to 2009.
A sharp plunge began around the year 2000—just as the digital era
as we know it kicked into high gear.
Aren't you craving better conversation? Do you miss the days we had time and no facebook or texting and just sat face to face in a park? I sure do. We are creating a generation of intimacy impaired kids in my opinion. "Relating" to a screen is not a relationship. It's a form of isolation in truth. We will never replace actual human contact or touch. The part that frustrates and scares me most is that the further removed from relating emotionally to one another we become, the more depressed, socially awkward and government/ advertiser controlled we also become. We must make sure we never lose the art of a meaningful conversation.
I am a part of the cyber world like most of us. I partake in facebook, I text, email, and call less and less. Personally it's because it's become the fastest or most efficient way to reach people. It's very handy to plan, or if you're running late. It' s fun on bad days to send a text to a friend and no one will know your "conversation" so you can have a running thread or window into your friends' life in a new way. What I find tiresome is the LOL! OMG! and CU L8R's...let's not lose our ability to write and speak in full sentences. We seem to all be so overwhelmed, over excited, ADD or what have you and are speaking and relating in sound bites like infomercials of ourselves. When faced with a dinner, a walk, time with no distractions...do we still know how to converse?
I don't see it much.
So many of us are DYING to talk and be heard. So many of us can't stop talking about our lives so quickly to relate in those minutes and seconds between things at work or even at home that we aren't even really listening let alone feeling anything while we share. There's no space! Instead we live in the voyeurism of Facebook. Don't get me wrong, I've heard and experienced some lovely reunions with people via Facebook, and it' sure cheaper than all the long distance $ it would take to chat to Australia or Seattle from Montreal. But I long for face time that is grounded, calm, empathetic...stimulating the brain in a creative way vs an adrenalised way.
I've had some real conversations this summer from starting an Artist's Way group. We met in a park and talk for three hours about art and creativity, themes that come up are organically explored. We are honest in our sharing, open in the flow vs controlling the flow...and magic is happening! Insight is coming, decisions are made easily, bonds are made that stay all week and beyond. We are sorely missing these kinds of dynamics in our modern society.
So I say have your twitters and I-Phones, but only as an enhancement to your intimate relationship, or as a business tool....not as a replacement. If your friendship only exists in cyberspace you are in trouble. How do you even know if you are compatible in basic human ways? Maybe you can't even walk down the sidewalk without wanting to kill each other? Maybe all that funny, witty or deep conversation only happens when the chat requires two people actually take turns talking? What happens if you can't handle emotions when with someone? We must never lose the art of conversation and intimacy. We can't let our society be eroded to the point of not feeling for others. Please, reflect this month on your usage of technology and the quality of your relationships, and change what's necessary. Push yourself to be outgoing with people in person. Let your feelings show to your friend vs crying behind a computer screen when no one can see you.
It's crucial to your emotional and psychological well being, and to the evolution or devolution of our society. Think about it .
The reality is that there’s very little conversationhappening on blogs. ( and I would add Facebook) What passes for conversation usually falls into one of two categories that look like conversation but aren’t really. These categories can be labeled as
1) Affirmation and Conciliation and
2) Pedantry and Venom.
In both cases, what that writing and talking is really about is inflating the ego.