The Art of Conversation is Dead

“Sorry, we don’t have Wifi, but maybe you could talk to each other instead and enjoy one of our amazing crepes!” …read a sign outside one of the restaurants in Akumal.

Coming from Cuba it was completely weird that internet in a public place was possible. What was weirder still was seeing people sat at a bar together in complete silence, face down staring into glowing screens, tapping away furiously at a world of hashtags, social networks and emoticons. What is even weirder is seeing young kids doing exactly the same…heads down, faces glowing – oblivious to the world around them.

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I saw this kind of behaviour within an hour of landing in Mexico and seeing that sign outside the restaurant in Akumal made me smile. It made a striking point about how we all communicate nowadays – or how we don’t.

Here’s another thing I will take away with me from Cuba. This tiny country with all its troubles and political and economic complexities, taught me how to focus more on people, without the distraction of phones or technology. I’m reminded of my conversations with our tour guides and the farmers of Vinales, who we talked with late into the night, smoking cigars and knocking back Havana Club. I’m reminded of more times I’ve been stuck without a phone, sitting around the camp fire in Poland with my cousins, telling stories, drinking vodka. These really were the best times!

Whilst travelling I’ve also noticed that some people, if not face down in their phones, can be really loud and vocal about themselves. People talk and talk and talk and don’t listen. You offer conversation and then find yourself stifling a yawn because the person you’re talking to is just telling you their life story and hasn’t yet asked you a single question, not even what your name is. Another person joins in and competes for air time. You make your excuses and leave.

I was surprised to see my mate Paul Raggity posting about the same sort of thing (below). I love reading Paul’s observations on life. Thanks Paul:

“I noticed a long time ago that people, in general, don’t have conversations anymore. Not really. Oh, they talk to each other, sometimes, but it’s not a conversation, they don’t really listen. Usually they’re just waiting for a pause, which signifies their turn to speak. But even that seems to be mutating now, and people are just talking over each other, about themselves. The art of conversation is dead. Maybe we should all get together sometime and discuss it?”

I’m starting to wonder whether I should pay more attention to conversation, listen more, and take more time to talk to more people in real life, rather than via a screen. I also think I’m going to take all the apps off my phone.

I have a feeling that I may be missing out.


Check out my highlights and travel tips for everywhere I travelled to in the world: CubaMexicoColombia, Ecuador, The Galapagos IslandsArgentinaLAFijiNew Zealand, Australia, Indonesia and Japan.


 

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