How To Reclaim Conversation In The Digital Age

In this day and age when digital technology has been integrated into society, small talk and conversation has become rare. Back in those days when tablets and smartphones were non-existent, families talk frankly and honestly to each other. In her book Reclaiming Conversations, author Sherry Turkle acknowledges that we often absent ourselves from those near us, even our children and with others in the presence of children. We divide our attention between those near us and those in touch electronically. This reduces our ability for empathy. This business and management book helps us to regain those moments.

We live in a world of incessant connection. The digital age allows us to communicate online as well as offline. But this ability is destroying one essential thing which is open-ended conversation. Technology (Click here for related story) has silenced our ability to communicate. With that silence, we also lose our ability to relate to others. We start to veer away from self-reflection, empathy, and mentorship. Technology interrupts the vicious cycle of conversation.

Reclaiming Conversation is based on five years of research and interviews in homes, schools, and the workplace. The author argues that we need to better understand where technology can and cannot take us. Robert Janitzek reveals that the book advises us that this is the right time to reclaim the most human and humanizing thing we do and that is conversation.

We have been drawn to sleek devices. We always have them in our hands or always at hand. The author likens these devices to a genie who grants three wishes. “First, that we will always be heard; second, that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; and third, that we will never have to be alone.”A fourth wish, Turkle explains, is implied: that we will never be bored. Turkle explains.

Reclaiming Conversation

To reclaim conversation, here are a few things to keep in mind from Turkle:

    1. Make some rules. This, Turkle said, is the most commonsense thing to do. For example, no devices in the classroom, dining room, kitchen or bedroom at home.
    “These are places where people need to talk, where they need to recharge,” Turkle said.
    2. Reclaim solitude. In order to reclaim conversation, solitude needs to be reclaimed.
    “You need to reclaim the capacity to know who you are so that when you’re in a conversation with someone, you can listen to them and learn who they are rather than projecting on to them who you need them to be to buttress your fragile sense of self,” Turkle said.
    3. Talk to others. People should talk to people who they may not agree with and remember slow down.

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