Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another Social Skill Gone Extinct...The Spoken Word

First, let me say that I am totally aware of the irony of this post. Read on...

So I'm at a gallery event the other night. My jewelry is currently being shown in a new cooperative gallery--a fun, ecclectic mix of art and artists of all ages media. I'm chatting with a pretty, young potter whom I discover is also a yoga instructor. I mention that I spent close to twenty years as an aerobics instructor. With big eyes she responds, "Aerobics? Do people still do that?" It was as if I had told her that I practice medicine using leeches (which, by the way, many hospitals still do--go on, Google it). Oblivious to my obviously cool reply of "Amazing as it may seem, but yes, people still "do that"", she went on burying herself by continuing, "I mean, I remember aerobics, like, back in the day, in the 80's, right?" As if the 1980s were the equivelent to the Stone Age or any other dark, forgotten time prior to Ipods and teenage Vampires. You know, before anything IMPORTANT happened in history. She sat there smiling at me, completely oblivious to the verbal torpedos she so casually launched. If I didn't already know this girl I would believe she was intentionally commiting conversational suicide by being a total bitch. But, I do know this woman (I shouldn't call her a girl, she's in her late 20s), and it hit me that she was like most people her age--oblivious to just about everything other than whatever was in her immediate center of interest. A product of a life spent surfing the 'Net, a child of Facebook. Who needs to master the art of conversation when you can OMG, LOL, ROTGL!!!

When I got over my initial fury (mostly because I couldn't help but feel TOTALY ANCIENT in that moment) I actually felt sorry for her. She's a good artist and a lovely young woman, but I like to actually SPEAK to a person, interact, connect, all that OLD -FASHIONED stuff and to her I was the eqivalent of a living dinosaur. Interesting, but aren't they suppose to be, like, extinct or something?

I knew in that moment I would never connect with her on any level other than superficially, and that made me kind of sad. Many say that the age of the Internet has brought the world closer together, but I think it has isolated individuals more than ever. Who needs to master the subtle art of good conversation and depth of thought when you're entire verbal repertoire is confined to 140 characters or less? She may have benn "friended" a thousand times on Facebook, but how many friends does she really have?

Give me a good, long conversation over a cup of coffee with a real-live person, face to face, not Facebook, and I'm one happy camper. I want to hear you laugh, not read LOL on a computer screen. Social networking via computer is all fine and good as long as it doesn't replace the need for vocal cords and eye-to-eye contact. It's what keeps us human. It's what makes us human.

Sorry, this far exceeds 140 characters...