the lost art of conversation

When I close my eyes and remember my childhood, and picture my mom, she’s on the phone. My mom spent a great deal of her day gabbing on the phone. Having private conversations with her girlfriends, relatives, gossiping and laughing and pretty much lost in her own world. Thinking about it now, it was the 90’s version of a smart-phone addiction- her way to tune out the mundane world of rearing small kids.

It was clear to me she was enjoying herself. Her face and tone and expressions were always animated. Hearing her in the background as I played Barbies or house or read; looking back now it seems so quaint.

These days, my kids see me as a zombie, holding the little rectangle of light in my palm, thumb scrolling scrolling scrolling. Always looking down, not really engaged at all. I think most people would be shocked and embarrassed if they saw themselves looking at social media – like a time lapse video direct from their phone showing the vacant expressions and agape mouths. My little boy has an old digital camera we let him take photos with, and it’s depressing to see the candid shots of me, sitting on the couch reading my phone. I don’t look happy. My expression is dead and I have serious RBF.

I picture my mom, with the landline cord wrapped around her, bustling around the kitchen. She looked alive.

I, too, used to talk on the phone with my friends. Long conversations. Enjoyable chats and gossip. It’s slowly gone away – it used to be a frequent thing, but now we all seem too busy to actually talk. It’s not the social norm any longer. When a new friend calls me rather than texts, it sorta makes me look twice. “Why isn’t she just texting?” I wonder. When an old friend calls me and we talk for an hour, it feels like a revolution. Hearing a friend’s voice, the cadence of it, the music of the conversation, it’s something I wish was an everyday thing, not a rare treat.

I do talk on the phone quite frequently to my Mom, and my husband (when he’s out of town). But it’s not quite the same thing as having multiple friends to talk to.

It’s trite to point out, but I have over 400 friends on Facebook but have probably only had real phone conversations with about a five of them during the last year.

Nothing beats spending time face to face, with a friend. And I’m starting to realize the updates and photos we all share with each other, while nice to see, aren’t real. It’s not the same at all. Any engagement with the outside world is great, I need it however I can get it, but I really wish this trend in my life of only communicating by written technology would slow down.

[and with that, I end this written blog communication, wiping away the irony with a florish]

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