As I sat in a Chamber of Commerce Breakfast tweeting @mrhandymansta who was sat 6 feet away from me, I did briefly wonder if we’re all going the way of Moss in the IT Crowd (see the video clip). I’ve been trolled heavily on the internet in my time but oddly, whenever I’ve met the people in person, they’ve been timid and scooted off, rather than having to face me, as if the internet is one thing but an actual conversation is somehow beyond them. I’m not that overbearing surely?
It’s more pervasive than that though. I come across plenty of people that are more than willing to send an email rather than either telephone someone or even walk over to talk to them. Even in my professional life. It’s odd, as if verbal communication is now something we should aspire to avoid as much as possible. Is talking to people really that much of a dying art?
Given the massive importance of non verbal communication in actually getting a message across, I sometimes think we should force people to talk to each other. Lock them in a room or something with ten other people for hours until they’re all chatting happily.
I’m so conscious of this reluctance to talk, I’m taking care to make sure I have lots of conversations with my kids. They’re going to grow up surrounded by technology, I’m excited by how that tech will change in the next ten years, but I want them to be socially capable. It doesn’t even matter what we talk about either. With Fifi, 3, I just let her loose and chip in with the odd comment or question. With the boy, it’s a bit more of an effort but it can be rewarding; some of the things he comes out with are truly wonderful.
In an age where we’re all so busy, the art of conversation can be difficult. There are so many things to distract us and so many things as a parent that we need to do. When was the last time you just sat down with your kids and talked about nothing in particular? I sometimes think my conversation has been infected by CBeebiesitis- I can’t have a conversation with the kids without there being some sort of educational outcome to it. To hell with it though, lets talk for the sake of it!