SUMMARY: Ed Wilson talks about an absence of conversation
This is something I have been observing for quite some time – no one seems to talk anymore. I see young people on the train with little white plastic ear buds inserted. Their heads nod in apparent agreement to some unheard conversation as if their music machines telepathically transmitted their thoughts at ultrasonic frequencies.
At dinner, lunch and even breakfast tables everyone sits around the meal staring at small 2 inch monitors, while their fingers dance on even smaller keyboards. They seem to forget that decades ago, phones were used for conversing in real time to other carbon based life forms.
I recently read an article that said that families that eat at least one meal together had children 60 percent less likely to get into serious trouble. I am not certain that it works the same way if everyone is staring at the screen of some device or other.
This morning in the concierges lounge at our hotel, sat a family. The father was busy with his tablet, doing some thing or other. The mother was busy reading on her kindle, and the young child was left to crawl around on the floor and harass other guests of the hotel. Clearly, someone missed out on a teachable moment about proper table manners and acceptable conduct in public places.
It goes beyond conversation to basic manners, and acceptable standards of behavio9r. The other night at the opera (a place where one would assume that proper decorum would be observed) the performance was interrupted by flashing camera phones, and the glare of lights on their small screens as they texted their friends from the opera. It is as if they wanted a selfie from the opera more than they wanted to watch the opera itself. My hopes that they would be physically ejected from their box, went unfulfilled, and they were permitted to continue harassing others to their hearts content.
If conversation is permitted to languish, then the great inspirations that arise from a lively exchange of ideas also fails to come forth. I am firmly convinced, that I learned more outside class at the university, than I did sitting and taking notes in a classroom. It is the asserting of positions, and then either defending or revising those positions that makes for a true university educatio9n. This is not replicated by a Shakespeare Facebook group.
I am not a troglodyte, but I do think there should be limits. I hate sitting in a public WC and listening to someone’s conversation as they chat blithely away on their cell phone. At dinner, I think it is a good idea to put away the devices and discuss the events of the day, and plans for the future.