Have we Lost the Art of Talking?

How long do you spend on your phone? When was the last time you looked UP? Have you noticed the myriad of orangey-brown hues peppering the leaves? Or how your breath creates cloud-like puffs in the early morning?

Are you someone who constantly checks for notifications during lectures, mid-way writing an essay and even during mealtimes? A study done by The Telegraph found that much of our generation spends over one day a week online and we are checking our phone ‘every twelve minutes’.

Imagine, we are spending 52 days a year online!

When you add it up, that is a scary statistic. Imagine, we are spending 52 days a year online! That’s nearly two months with our eyes locked on a screen, staring at pixelated photos or words. Scrolling through incessant tweets and insta stories. Living our lives chained and constricted by the never-ending feeds of social media.

52 days. Assuming you sleep 12 hours a night, (which is highly unlikely) that’s 624 hours spent online. Imagine all the people you could meet, the things you could do, the conversations you could have in those 624 hours.

Our generation is so much worse at making conversation than our elders and many put this down to our addiction to our phones. We are so engrossed by images of the ‘perfect body’ or ‘perfect lifestyle’ promoted to us through Instagram and  we try to control as much of our public image as possible.

We cannot rehearse what might be said

Whether through the pictures we post or comments we make online, it is all with the aim of creating a particular ‘perception’ of ourselves. However, when it comes to a face to face conversation, the lack of control over how the conversation could unfold might scare us. We cannot rehearse what might be said and this unpredictability could deter us from even trying to have a conversation.

It is a common habit to turn to our phone as a comfort blanket, to help us feel less alone in a world where we are more connected than ever. We all exploit the use of FaceTime or Messenger to keep connected to our friends and family. But, it’s when we look to our devices to prevent an ensuing awkward silence in the company of an unknown friend of a friend, that it becomes wrong.

You could be passing off a potential lifelong friendship because it’s easier to scroll through your Instagram feed

We are missing the opportunity to find out more about this person. Who knows, they may also be an avid Bake-Off watcher or hate it when raisins are hidden in cookies so you’re deceived into thinking they’re chocolate chip. But if neither of you take the risk of starting the conversation and instead look to your phone to fill the silence, how will you ever know? You could be passing off a potential lifelong friendship because it’s easier to scroll through your Instagram feed.

Sarah Morris, a producer at Channel 4, alluded to the idea that we ‘don’t build trust in the same way whether in the workplace or socially’ when we’re online. Sarah also described the ‘inter-generational resentment’ in the workplace that is caused by our generation’s lack of ability to hold a decent conversation and make eye contact.

So next time, whether you’re around your friends or a stranger, instigate a conversation instead of turning to your phone. Start with a ‘hi, what’s your name?’ or ‘how was your day?’. It is honestly that easy and from there, see where the conversation flows.

Everyone has a story: where they’ve been, what they believe in, how they’ve become who they are

Of course, you’re not going to get on with everyone but it’s that ‘optimism’ and ‘belief’ that you could have a connection, which should drive your desire to talk. Everyone has a story: where they’ve been, what they believe in, how they’ve become who they are. All you need to do is unlock it by asking and being curious.

For the sake of our relationship with our elders, the state of our mental health and simply the opportunities that might be missed, next time you go for dinner, try leaving your phone in your room.

Give yourself the chance to find out something new about someone else, you might just discover something about yourself in the process.

Natasha Phang-Lee

Featured image courtesy of Natasha Phang-Lee. No changes were made to this image.

In article image courtesy of @youandmemyworld via Twitter. No changes were made to this image. 

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