When I was recently scrolling through my timeline in a moment of procrastination, I stumbled upon an update from my nephew, and there in the comments were streams of emoji’s.
I sat there for a good few minutes attempting to decipher this new language, (and yes, I hasten to admit I did also attempt a google search trying to work out exactly what they all meant), and it dawned on me that nowhere had any of them put anything in plain English.
Now I love an emoji just as much as anyone else who feels it’s completely necessary to add as many presentational images as possible, (sometimes so many that my messages read more like a picture book), and you may be fast to criticize the ‘youth of today’, but I believe this is just the cherry on top of one very big cake that isn’t being addressed.
Because it doesn’t matter if you’re 14 or 34, our society seems to have lost the art of conversation.
Back when I was a child, we would have got a scalding off my parents if we considered bringing our phones to the dinner table (in fact the truth is we didn’t even have one until 16), let alone have the audacity to even be on them during a meal. We would have to sit there and actually talk to each other like civilised, (or not so civilised on some occasions), human beings.
But now everywhere you go it seems that our eyes are on our phones, and our mouths utter very little in the way of conversation.
You may think I’m being over dramatic but let me give you some examples that you may be able to relate to;
- A queue of people all mindlessly on their phones whilst waiting at a checkout
- Couples out for dinner more absorbed in their phones than each other
- Children on buses thrust with a phone in their face to keep them entertained
- Pedestrians in near misses with lamp posts and other pedestrians because their phone was in their face
I look around in all of these instances and want to run for the hills.
I sometimes wonder if I was to start a conversation with a stranger if they’d know what to do.
The phenomenon has been laughable previously, with may artists and photographers portraying our modern mobile addiction in depressing snapshots of a muted society.
But the real sadness of it all is the loss of what an impact a real personal conversation can have.
When you take part in messaging or even adopt the emoji language that the teeny boppers have, what your saying loses all it’s meaning.
What worsens this already sad state of affairs, is that much of what gets said online never gets said in person. And I don’t just mean those keyboard warriors, I mean those people who seem to have a split personality from their online selves to their real selves.
There’s nothing more disappointing then sparking up a conversation online with someone, to meet them in person and they give you a deer in headlights look as if you’re speaking an alien language.
If the conversation can’t continue off line, it looses all of it’s authenticity, and you end up looking like a total idiot, to put it nicely.
The trouble is, I’m talker. (Even more so when I’ve had a few too many).
When I’m with friends or family, my phone stays in my bag, and I’m all theirs.
Not because I’m proving a point and acting all righteous about my anti-phone way of life, but because I’m genuinely interested in having a conversation about what’s going on in their lives, how they’re feeling. I don’t want the Facebook update, I want the real thing.
Many of my favourite evenings have been spent in the throws of a hot conversation over a bottle or two of wine and a good meal.
Because when you actually converse with people you learn more about them, you open your mind to new ways of thinking and you build a better relationship.
Communication has to be one of the most underrated skills we hold as human beings, yet it’s the most important.
Without communication and the ability to converse with each other, we can’t evolve ideas or show our emotions, we just become as thoughtful and uncreative as robots!
What I fear most is that future generations are never going to feel that sense of connection with their peers, or have those movements when you have a deep and meaningful conversation and feel completely inspired and energised after wards.
The art of conversation is at risk of distinction, and we don’t even realise it.