I was sitting in a coffee shop the other day, observing people as I am wont to do. As an aspiring writer, what better place to learn about human characteristics, dialogue and situations than to simply watch and listen. Overheard tantalizing snippets of conversation have led to some wonderful story ideas that currently reside in my ‘gotta write about this someday’ file. What I have noticed lately is the prevalence of technological forms of communication that are impeding or eliminating conversations between real people standing beside each other in a line up, at a checkout or just passing each other on a sidewalk.
While technology is a marvelous tool that keeps us connected to our five favorite people, it is replacing social conversation. While ‘nice weather, eh” may not be the most inspired ice breaker, small talk is a way to acknowledge people around us in an open way, possibly leading to more conversation and striking a connection. Hard to make eye contact with someone when their head is bent while they frantically text their BFF.
Eye contact and social conversation is an integral part of our human beingness (is that a word? Well, it is now…LOL). There are many solitary people in this world whose social contact is limited to trips to the grocery store, bookstore or post office (perhaps not right now with the postal strike but in general). Human beings crave companionship, social interactions and connections. It is said that your eyes are the window to the soul….but only if you can see someone eye to eye. Eye to iPhone is not the same thing.
Do I think this is the rise of the machines, as foretold in the Terminator movies? Yes and no. I think that if we as people lose our connection to each other, we lose some of our humanity. It’s hard to hug via text message, see fear, desperation, love and passion in someone’s eyes via phone call and even with Skype and other face-to-face communication tools, it’s hard to reach out and actually touch each other. Emoticons are cute but hardly the real thing.
Besides, if people stop actually talking to each other LIVE, I will have to resort to making up things for my stories. Truth is so much stranger and way more entertaining than fiction.
And if you think I can’t see you from my blog, you’re right. Next time I pass you on the street though, I’ll make sure to look you in the eye and give you a big smile and say hello. Who knows, it just might make our respective days just a little bit brighter.
Connecting through face to face conversations….who would have thought it could matter that much.