Conversation is our Magical Power

There is no substitute for face-to-face conversation

“Dolphins can swim amazingly fast, and eagles can fly as high as a jet, but [conversation] is our trick.” The incredible thing we do during conversation

Conversation is our species’ magical power and Millennials (and younger) have been deprived of the social and cultural advantages of practicing conversation.

It’s no coincidence that we are also a generation defined as being “Alone Together”. Technology is the biggest driver here. I’m addicted to my phone. I’m guessing plenty of you have faced the challenge of setting boundaries for using your devices.

My addiction started back in middle school when AIM came out. It completely revolutionized how my friends and I socialized. By college, SMS was the new standard of communication. Then I entered the professional world and email became my new happy place. It’s just so damn easy to sit on your throne all day and type. Yet all this time spent messaging and emailing, I never quite understood what I was sacrificing.

I was sacrificing my ability to converse. I was sacrificing my magical power as a human (WTF Matt). I grew accustomed to artfully crafting texts and email responses. I would spend all of this time formulating my thoughts, only to be disappointed by the brevity of the typical reply. As Ed says, “It’s not in what we say but in what we don’t”. Certain content is better reserved for face-to-face exchanges. I was blind to that. This ignorance hurt my effectiveness with friends, co-workers and customers. It also put a dent in my dating life.

Todays dating apps happen to be a perfect example of how our reliance on messaging, as a way to socialize, has stifled our magical power. Do you really think you’re going to meet someone great through a text message? The unhealthy way in which dating apps are used today is well documented and I’m here to say that messaging is largely a bad medium for socializing.

Messaging makes us more efficient, but relying heavily on it can make communication less effective. Digital technology was so new back in the early 2000’s and messaging was easy to implement and easy to scale. Voice messages were reserved for voicemail and video wasn’t something our phones could even handle.

It’s time we Raise the bar

It’s ok because… “technology is a lever” -@jack

Jack and many other people smarter than me have referenced this ideology before. My interpretation; when the lever started to shift in the early 2000’s, messaging became ubiquitous in social applications. Fast forward to 2016 and we find that messaging might actually be more advantageous for business-like transactions; see customer service bots and #Slack, which is healing our email addiction and improving the way we work. We also find video streaming infiltrating many social mediums, see Snapchat, Periscope, Facetime etc.. All of these shifts just make technology more effective and more healthy to use, thus raising the bar.

I’m not saying that messaging should disappear. Messaging is ideal for business-like interactions; “be there in 5,” “don’t forget the milk,” “what’s your address?” The problem is that for more personal and lengthier exchanges, messaging doesn’t suffice. In fact, it leaves us lacking our magical power.

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