What is happening to good old-fashioned conversation?
The world of social media is an incredible one. The use of computers and cellphone technology provides us with so much goodness. But over the years, we have seen much change. A phone used to be just for talking. Back in the day when Facebook didn’t exist, smartphones were still being built, and apps hadn’t even been invented….. we used to TALK, just talk! If you are reading this to or with a child, the child may be responding with “Ugh! Talk, why do we need to do that?” At least that is what an exaggerated response would be.
Long gone are the days when someone just knocked on your door to say “hi” on the off chance that you were home. Or did a child with a bike knock at your door asking if you or your kids were coming out to play? And what happened to those butterflies in your tummy when you were anxiously waiting for that boy to call and ask you out on a date?!? Now we get a text, Snapchat, a tweet, an Instagram photo/video not to mention the hundreds of messaging apps we all use. We walk around so busy consumed by technology, that we are somewhat killing off our verbal communication skills and those of our children too.
Technology has a place, and I believe if used mindfully won’t have quite such the negative bearing on our lives.
I mean, what happened to people going out for dinner and talking? Now, all you see in restaurants are people sitting across from one other, constantly distracted by their mobile devices. I get that for an emergency they are worth their weight in gold… and for keeping in contact with people they can be very beneficial especially when you don’t live in the same town or country. And then there’s business. But my question is; Are we over-using them? Are they becoming a hindrance on our personal relationships? When we are having a meal, or even just having a coffee with a friend, can we please put the phones away and just be present with one another?
I don’t have children, so I can’t know for sure how I would feel about the right age for my child having a phone. But I would say, at a guess, around the age of 12 would be good when kids begin high school. Although, even at that age, we still need to be vigilant and careful. There is more cyber-bullying today than ever, which I think in some ways is worse than in-person bullying. Cyber-bullying is silent and cannot be seen and therefore are often no witnesses. The emotional effects of this on a child (or even an adult for that matter) can be huge. Especially when using things like Snapchat because the communication deletes after a few seconds. As if life isn’t hard enough as it is, without being faced with all these new pressures.
I would personally just love to see everyone put the effort BACK into talking more in-person to people, particularly in the home (instead of being on iPads and cellphones all the time). I appreciate this can be tough if it’s your business, but I do strongly believe we can all find it in us to dedicate some committed time to our family and loved ones before we jump back onto our gadgets.
If we as adults don’t help to set the standard of communication in the home for our children, how can we expect them to learn, understand and develop their own communication skills when they are apart from us?
Life moves so fast with work, school, recreational activities and daily chores, I understand how challenging it can be to find even an hour to sit and just be present in the moment (with your partner, child, friend or co-worker, etc.). We need to make this a priority for everyone’s sake.
A suggestion is to leave your phone out of sight when you meet a friend or put it on silent for an hour a night when you go home. Try having kids leave them in a basket near the door, especially when they have visitors over. Allow them to enjoy the company of their friends. I know my sister’s friend does this with her son and his friends, and it has a great effect. Even if you all make a commitment to keep them out of sight whilst you have dinner, it’s a good start.
I know in many ways gadgets have taken the place of good old-fashioned newspapers, and they are how people stay in touch with what’s going on in the world. Not to mention it’s also how we follow the lives of our nearest and dearest when we no longer live near or with them. I recognise technology does bring a lot of joy and happiness to our lives. It has many great positive effects. I just think we need to be mindful of how much we use it so that we don’t become over-consumed by the world of “social media”. I believe too much can be detrimental to our lives and personal well-being. And at the end of the day, there is nothing quite like some loving, hugging and good old-fashioned chatting.
So, let’s put the electronic devices down and start talking to each other, giving the people in our lives the respect, time and love they deserve. Talk to each other at dinner; dedicate a length of time to your loved ones where they get your full attention. Help children see how actual verbal communication is still an important part of life.
Let’s all go and get chatting!