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Whatever Happened To Conversation?

What has happened to the art of conversation and human connecting? Take a train, bus or plane ride and look around you. Most of the people around you are plugged in and tuned out. People ...

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What has happened to the art of conversation and human connecting? Take a train, bus or plane ride and look around you. Most of the people around you are plugged in and tuned out. People do not talk or connect as they once did.

If you were born before 1979, read what follows with great attentiveness. It offers some insight into why the present generation is so poor at conversation and human relationships.

To all the kids who survived the 20's, 30's, 40's 50's, 60's and 70's - first we survived being born to mommies who smoked and/or drank when they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate bleu cheese dressing and tuna from a can and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored, lead based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.

As infants and children, we were driving in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seatbelts or airbags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm summer day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with our four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this. We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank Kool-Aid made with sugar, but we were not overweight because we were always playing outside!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day - and we were okay!

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill; only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem!

As kids, we did not have play stations, Nintendo, X-Box's, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround sound or CD's, no cell phones or personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms! We had FRIENDS, and we went outside and found them.

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. We ate worms and made mud pies from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns on our 10th birthday, made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and although we were told it would have happened, we did not put out very many eyes!

We rode our bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door, rang the bell or just walked in and talked to them. Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't, didn't have a meltdown. They learned how to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. If the truth be told, they actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! These past fifty years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all!

If you are one of them, congratulations! You might want to share this with others who have had the good luck to grow up as kids before lawyers, lawsuits and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good.

While you're at it, forward this to your own kids, so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it. (The gist of what you've just read is from an anonymous piece I received in a recent e-mail. I love the content, but it's not original. However, I thought it was worth passing on.)

In the name of technology and gadgetry, what have we done? It seems that we have opted for isolation rather than connection. We have settled for a computer screen and instant messaging over real human conversation. We have plugged in and tuned out so much richness as it relates to human relationships. The art of human conversation is almost nonexistent. We don't know how to speak and/or connect with one another in a meaningful way.

Friendship has been replaced by gadgetry, video games and deliberate human isolation. We wonder why so many of our young people are so superficial and shallow. Look at their human landscape. We have allowed them to create a world for themselves that is devoid of human imagination, intimacy and human touch. Many of the present generation don't know how to problem solve or do critical thinking. Everything is fed into a computer and the computer tells them how to think, what to feel and how to react.

New technology has created an excuse for every human failure and mistake. Instead of empowering people to be accountable and make them more responsible for their choices, technology has unconsciously encouraged our young people to accept a lack of responsibility and accountability as normative behavior.

Modern technology and change should have a positive dynamic within our culture. They should reinforce and encourage those basic human values that most of us were raised with. We need to ask ourselves why our culture is so out of control. Why have we lost our moral compass? Is it really modern technology and change that have done this? Or, is it our own abdication of any kind of responsibility which is really the issue? We should control our technology; it should not control us and dictate the parameters of our lives.

How many hours a day do your children sit before a computer? How many cell phones does your family have? How old is your youngest child who possesses a cell phone? What about video games, ipods and televisions in your home - does every family member have a television is his or her own room?

When the family gathers for a meal, are cell phones left on? Is the television playing and the music blasting? Is the family meal a painful gathering of strangers for ten minutes, rather than an opportunity for family to connect, share and catch up?

The answer to these important questions will help you determine if you control technology or if technology controls you. It is important to note that technology is not the enemy, but rather a tool to help us grow, develop and become all that we can be.

Eliminating technology and being closed to change is not going to improve the quality of our life. The challenge before us is to find the balance, stay the course and use technology to enhance our human relationships, not to impair them; to see change as an opportunity to grow and strengthen our capacity to communicate more effectively and build more dynamic human relationships.

Our technology should encourage our imagination, not sterilize it. It should open new doors for human conversation and provide opportunities for us to converse about new possibilities, new human adventures and new venues to explore.

If we use our technology in the right way, it should be a wonderful bridge to the future that will further enrich our humanity and not shackle it!