Across time we’ve experienced the conversational behaviors in their multiple variants, thanks to the rapidly improving means of communication. With a view to developing user friendly tools that could make our lives easier, the techonology has succeeded, as well, in shaping the way we communicate to each other. Though this may seem revolutionary and future-oriented, my thoughts linger around the idea that we fail in reaching each other through communication.
Although technology and the digital world are climbing up the evolution ladder, I fear we, as a species, are climbing down it. The simple live pictures around us are the sheer expression of current conversational behaviors, which paint a world equally lived by humans and devices. Whenever I go out for coffee, I sit at a table and take a look around. Loud music running in the background becomes the perfect set up for the digital decor on the tables: smartphones outnumbering the people actually sitting at the table, a beer on a corner and some headphones in the middle. Everyone’s got their heads tilted down. The waitress gets closer, when they woozily pop out the question: Can you get me a Like, please?
That’s OK. It happens often nowdays to bring the digital into the personal. But you get used to this new dialect. I grew up in the BRB cause I gotta LOL age. Later on, we began to mock these shortened idioms, when we should have been thankful for at least pronouncing some sounds. Now we don’t even have that. We have been silenced to a small chat window that pops-out on your screen in sign of “hello”, whenever someone is trying to get in touch. You just type in, let the device make the sounds for you. I am not disappointed by the way technology has evolved, but by the way we have let it mold our conversational behaviors. We choose to relate with the screen rather than with the headphones. We prefer to visualise instead of listening.
This alone is enough to prove my point: that we fail to understand each other, because we lack the habit of listening first. We find it easier to express our ideas in writing, thus losing the sense of rationality, otherwise necessary in verbal speech. My theory here is based on the fact that in personal conversational behaviors we lose focus easier than before, as we’ve gotten used to the speed of digital devices. Probably, only 20% of this blog post’s words will actually be read. When texting we only focus on that activity, without having to concentrate on the other’s thoughts. By the time we get a reply, we have already formed other ideas ready to let go. Therefore, in this context, speed of fingers wins, outreaching the speed of thought.
In time, we become used to this type of simultaneous conversation, where each of us has the floor, irrespective of any speech related rules. However, this has the potential to deteriorate the true meaning of interpersonal relationships, by turning them into digital interactions, where technology will grow into the all social sharing platform.