The lost art of Conversation in the 21st century

Sadly many new technologies have contributed to increasing our isolation (TV, iPods, etc.) but it doesn’t have to be that way.

connect email internet micheleroohani

As children, we start the conversation by playing together, as young adults our conversations become intense but something strange happens in midlife: all those ideals sediment in our heads and we get comfortable in our somehow more quiet and prosaic lives – we sink gradually to the bottom of our minds.

children playing micheleroohani

Unfortunately for many of us, by the time we get to old age, the conversation has died down completely or has diminished to a competition about who’s more sick and who’s children are more ungrateful – Man dies in solitude and silence…

ocean alone micheleroohani

To fight the loneliness of it all, we compromise our standards/principles and settle with a wide array of less than par exchange of ideas.

pacific beach micheleroohani

Sharing opinions, ideas and images is my motivation for blogging. Ideally a post can be the start of a conversation; the Internet equivalent of sitting down in front of a cup of coffee (make it tea) to relax and shoot the breeze. The conversation is at the root of creativity and it can help change our mindsets.

To make the conversation flow easier, it’s now possible to be notified by e-mail when someone makes a comment on the same post you have. All you have to do is check the little box labeled “Notify me of follow up comments via e-mail”, which appears below your comment.

There have been so many great comments and I can’t mention them all, but here are some of my favorites:

One of my favorite thinkers, Theodore Zeldin believes that “conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits – it doesn’t just reshuffle the cards it creates new cards.” I agree with him when he says “we are increasingly leading bubble lives in which we insulate ourselves from everyone apart from an ever diminishing circle of friends and acquaintances.”

A good conversation starter would be this very funny NY Times article about the books that end love stories.

6 thoughts on “The lost art of Conversation in the 21st century

  1. First of all, “Love the laptop heads” I wish I could keep that much info in my head. I would be a great communicator, ” let me just , Wiki it”!!!
    My dear Michelle, interesting topic, Lost art of conversation! Is it lost or are we too old? My 16 year old is in “Model United Nation” at school, its like a debate club dealing with international issues. They are given the topic and they have to defend their point. He seems to be very interested in the art of communication.Maybe because he is young and has a lot to say? Maybe because he has things to prove? Maybe because he has points to make? Maybe as you say he is still a child. I dont know, I know that I am not that interested. Maybe because I am old? Maybe because I dont have as much to prove? and to tell you the truth I am not interested whose child is more ungreatful or what aches and pains we each have.
    I told my dad that my shoulder hurt, he looked at me and said “honey you are 50, from here on you should be happy every day that you wake up and can feel pain, because it means you are still alive.” so, that took care of that. On the subject of ungreatful children, I think there are only expectant parents, so that is the end of that.
    I do know however, I am very selective in the topics that I choose to open my mouth for, and express an opinion on.
    We all use the same words and mean different things by it.
    I am sick of the need for translation when we all speak the same languages. WHAT MAKES FOR GOOD CONVERSATION IS THE MEANING WE GIVE TO THE BASIC VALUES, then we can disagree how it should be implemented IT.

  2. Re: Conversation versus noise: “Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my luger.” Hermann Göring.

    Gentle reader, kindly see the Platonic dialogues, the Sadean dialogues — e.g. Dialogue entre un prêtre et un moribund, anything by Nicholas de Chamfort or Oscar Wilde, Bosewll’s Life of Samuel Johnson, anything by William F. Buckley (RIP) or his son Christopher vis Thank you for Smoking, but my favorite is Sailing to Bamboola. All these examples might be viewed as mirrors for what should, could and sometimes did happen in real time. Thus, these examples and this very polished and learned blog are no substitute for a good, focused talk.

    Focused and informed talk. Table talk.

    Note, too, playwrights such as Pinter and Mamet and Churchill are the artist-anthropologists who, in their subtle mirroring of the vacuity of the manner in which language is eviscerated, ‘pimp-my-car’ style, in our ‘culture.’ And so Göring’s comment above and King Crimson’s ‘Elephant Talk.’

    Talk, its only talk
    Arguments, agreements, advice, answers,
    Articulate announcements
    Its only talk

    Talk, its only talk
    Babble, burble, banter, bicker bicker bicker
    Brouhaha, boulderdash, ballyhoo
    Its only talk
    Back talk

    Talk talk talk, its only talk
    Comments, cliches, commentary, controversy
    Chatter, chit-chat, chit-chat, chit-chat,
    Conversation, contradiction, criticism
    Its only talk
    Cheap talk

    Talk, talk, its only talk
    Debates, discussions
    These are words with a d this time
    Dialogue, dualogue, diatribe,
    Dissention, declamation
    Double talk, double talk

    Talk, talk, its all talk
    Too much talk
    Small talk
    Talk that trash
    Expressions, editorials, expugnations, exclamations, enfadulations
    Its all talk
    Elephant talk, elephant talk, elephant talk.
    and see:

    I think this is why, or at least one more rationalization for, my spending so much more time in pubs in conversation with friends.


  3. We live in constant Buzz !! We like the connectedness. We do not seem interested in an about-face toward simpler lives we recall with that rosy, nostalgic glow. Our speedy, in-touch lives can feel good in their own way. The economist Howard Stein, eying the new hordes of men and women who walk sideways with cell phones at their ears and mouths, decided that our need for information on demand is as primitive an instinct as any animal can have.

    Saul Bellow aptly described our mental condition as “An unbearable state of distraction”.

  4. Thank you Michele for the warm thoughts and mucho kudos to all you do to facilitate the very same conversation you mentioned across what appears to be a vast, unique group of folks interested in learning and sharing. Jane Goodall, the famous primatologist once said: what sets us apart from our fellow primates is our ability to sit quietly in a corner for half an hour, think, and leave that corner a completely different person. Our conversations, those we hold with ourselves and that which we share with others are the backbone of these thoughts and the engine of our personality. This personality appears to be shaped through such conversations with our parents, friends, and influential persons we encounter during various chapters of our lives. These ongoing conversations influence our personality’s metamorphosis through time. Whether it’s Islamic Fascism or Secular Humanism, the conversations within and between groups makes the world go round, a world we all belong to. This is why we rely so much on peaceful dialogue. You mentioned that technology has resulted into our isolation, but this very same technology has also improved the means of our communication. Whether we decide to communicate or use the technology for passive entertainment is simply a choice we make. Our grandparents didn’t dream of the possibility of being in touch 24/7 with everyone in the world; but we currently live the life they never dreamed of. Isolation is a lifestyle choice, not a necessity. We can always turn off and tune out. We don’t consider ourselves isolated because we communicate through the internet on a blog. Even though we may not be immediately surrounded by each other, I imagine the very electronic projections of your site’s pages, a beautiful, virtual spread we sit around, as we share our thoughts against the backdrop of your art. : )

  5. As always Ali’s comments are thought provoking & profound..I am an active & loyal member of his fan club. I wonder if he writes his own blog !!

    Also wish to express gratitude for your warmth, sharing, acknowledging and making me part of your idea universe..

  6. J’ai beaucoup discuté avec Isabelle. Un soir que nous dinions en ville, elle avait écrit sur un bout de papier : “Notre rencontre est rare, donc précieuse”.

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