The Art of Conversation

Growing up I wasn’t much of the spur of the moment kind of person.  We had our schedules planned out based on the various sporting events, football games, family trips, and whatever homework needed to be accomplished.  This became a problem as I would get set in my ways and wasn’t really open to spontaneous adventure.

This past weekend I went, pretty much on a whim and a limb, to Lake Arrowhead with a few friends from high school.  I’ve known a couple of them since elementary school and even one since preschool.  I hadn’t been particularly close with them during high school and really didn’t know if I would ever chat with them, let alone go on a trip, after graduation. I think part of this had to do with my own insecurities and my need to find my own identity as well as find confidence in myself.   I had been telling myself the past four to eight years that I didn’t relate to them, we didn’t have similar interestes, etc.  What I found is that even though we like to surround ourselves with like-minded people, it’s the people who are different or have the guts to push the boundaries, truly make a difference in our lives and motivate us to new levels.

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Anyways, I was curious as to how my high school friends and I would hang out and talk.  Sure, there’s the ever-so popular conversation starters such as, “how’s it going?”, “how was college?”, “so what are you going to do with your life?” and so on.  Furthermore, I wasn’t sure how the cell-phones would come into play.  I found that people in college had a fear of opening up.  I agree, it’s a two-way street and I’m VERY good at building barriers between my emotions and others, but still, the next time I ask someone how they are and their sole response is negative – “I’m tired”, “I’m so stressed”, or “I have so much work to do,”  I may very well walk away.

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Beyond that, the smartphone has played a huge part of our generation’s social activities.  It acts as a security blanket.  If we are bored, just whip out Twitter, news apps (not so likely as Facebook), or play on other smartphone apps.  It also acts as a diversion.  Don’t tell me you’ve never pulled out your phone to look busy in order to avoid looking at someone or talking to someone.  Please, I’m guilty as charged.

One of my friends said that when they go out to dinner, they all put their phones in a hat or in the center of the table.  The first person that feels the desire to check an update, a text, or Facebook, is left to pay for everyone’s dinner.  Sure makes you think twice when you think you are bored with the conversation, right?  Just think, what did people do without the constant stream of social media and applications?

The result of the weekend?  The phones were pretty much in the cabin the whole time.  Even when we were back at night, we barely touched them and instead had much more inspirational and often intellectual conversations than I would have predicted from a post-college trip.  This probably has to do with the fact that one of our friends is going to get her PHD and can talk about pretty much anything, but still, it’s nice to have some people who share their beliefs and back them up with evidence, questioning the standards, rather than believing and regurgitating what they are told.

They were probably some of the best conversations I’ve had with friends in a long time.  I didn’t used to think my friends in high school would come back into my lives, but I was wrong.  I’ve re-evaluated what’s important to me and you can never say never.  So while I know it’s not normal to have a heart-to-heart with everyone you meet, take some time to put away the cell phone and open up a little bit.

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“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Conversation

  1. Pingback: WIAW #47 – Summertime Eats | California Endless Summer

  2. I love going on runs or just putting my phone away. As much as I love technology and my phone, there’s something so great about just ditching it for a period of time- very liberating! I’m curious to see how our phones will affect social structure. You’re right, they are already like a pacifier for many!

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