personal reflections

Conversation, Not Just Connection

One of my teachers, Christina Baldwin, shared a great article called The Flight from Conversation by Sherry Turkle.

We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.

Two sentences that articulate why I believe, even with all our technological enhancements, there will always be a place for face-to-face conversation.

Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference.

We forget there is a difference until that moment when suddenly, probably unexpectedly, you are in a real conversation. I love this from David Whyte’s Ten Questions That Have No Right To Go Away:

Do I know how to have real conversation? A real conversation always contains an invitation. You are inviting another person to reveal herself or himself to you, to tell you who they are or what they want. To do this requires vulnerability. Now we tend to think that vulnerability is associated with weakness, but there’s a kind of robust vulnerability that can create a certain form of strength and presence too.

I challenged myself one night at a birthday gathering to look for moments to have real conversation, to move from connection to conversation. I had three that night. Two of the people commented with surprise that they didn’t expect to have this conversation tonight, and I could see from the spark in their eyes that they felt the magic of that robust vulnerability in revealing themselves to me. A gift for me to catch their story.

A great quote to end with, about the ebb back to a time of conversation:

Once upon a time, people gathered in town squares and under village oaks to learn, debate, eat, create, make decisions, and laugh. That time is coming back: be part of it.