Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Art of Conversation

Posted August 27, 2009

Have Americans lost the art of conversation? We blog, text, fire off pithy emails, tweet and tweak our images on Facebook. But do we really know how to communicate anymore?

Contact lens specialist Pat Foster of Cary was scoffing at her ornery computer the other day and said: “When I retire I don’t know if I will ever turn on a computer again.”

Pat has a radiant personality and she uses it well in one-on-one conversations. She worries that society today is too absorbed with technological communication. Pat says the sweetness of personal conversation on front porches is dying out. She can’t remember the last time she received a hand-written letter from a friend. She says her children have no interest in family stories. Everything is quick, urgent and now!

Is Pat right? What do you think? Is the art of conversation dead?


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  • MorrisseyMusings Sep 1, 2009

    bill: thanks! looks like you inadvertently solved the problem you posted about, at least on this post, anyway! :)

    (now, bill, what's your take on smilies/emoticons? :p )

  • Question Aug 28, 2009

    lynneslaughter--thanks for the tip! Pisgah Inn, also on the BRP in NC at ~5000ft elevation, south of Asheville, has no cell phone or phone service in the rooms, but does have a tv with local stations only. Great food there as well and what a beautiful view of the mountains.

  • lynneslaughter Aug 28, 2009

    question: Peaks of otter lodge on the blue ridge parkway (virginia side) has no tv or phones in rooms. You can walk around the lake or wait till night and feed the deer from your balcony. really quiet place with great food.

  • Question Aug 28, 2009

    BTW--Yellowstone is an absolutely great vacation. We stayed at Lake Yellowstone and there's no TV, no internet, no phones in the rooms and no cell phone signal! A real getaway from the stress of life!

  • Question Aug 28, 2009

    I just don't get Facebook, etc. I guess I'm a lot more private than most. Also, people used to make fun of those who sent out the generic family newsletter in the Christmas card, but frankly, Facebook reminds me of those newsletters.
    It's funny--we were in Yosemite last year, sitting on a patio in Curry Village. We were surrounded by grandeur. Watching those walking by, the 30+ adults were looking around at the beauty, the 20 somethings were talking on their cell phone and those down to about 12 were walking along, texting, missing it all. Fortunately, there's not much of a cell phone signal in Yellowstone, so we didn't see that on our trip this year!

  • thinknc Aug 28, 2009

    LMRA--I was born in the last "baby boom" year. My brother and I talk about how much our mom would have LOVED cell phones. She liked to keep up with us pretty closely. The war letters I referred to were finally sent to their rightful owner--my cousin--the son of the paratrooper who never got to meet his father.

  • UNCfuturealumi Aug 28, 2009

    I drive my grandkids to school each day and I am happy to get in the car and have a one on one conversation with them. No TV, no computers, no ipods, no cell phone. That is when I learn a little about school, church and what they want for breakfast the next morning and if they can ride with me to visit Great-Grandma tonight. But yes, technology is alive and well and is doing its part. Also letter writing is fast becoming a lost art.

  • LMRA Aug 28, 2009

    thinknc - we must be around the same age! We had pay phones in our dorms and you had to get 'in line' well before 10:30 to get to the phone at 11:00 on the dot (usually to call the hometown boyfriend before you went out on the town!)

    I've heard historians say that it will be more difficult to chronicle the historic events of our time because we don't write to each other - and when we do, it isn't in much detail. Just like the letters you found when your aunt passed, letters told stories. A lot of our country's history has been documented through the letters sent back and forth to those at war, adventurers who moved west for new opportunities or those in a foreign land negotiating our country's future.

    Read any book on the American Revolution and you'll see many many passages taken from letters sent and received by families. My favorites are the letters between Abagail and John Adams!

  • thinknc Aug 27, 2009

    Coincidentally, on my way home I was having such wonderful conversation with my teenage daughter-lots of laughter sharing the experiences of the day--I actually thought these were "golden moments" as she'll be in college in a couple of years. My son is in his second year of college, and thanks to technology, we are in communication far more than I was with my mom. When I was in college, we did our calling after 11:00, when the rates dropped! Now through e-mail, live video chats, etc., I am in touch with my son, who is 3 hours away, nearly every day--and often he initiates the communication! As for handwritten letters, unfortunately we won't have these as they did in the past. Sorting through my aunt's papers after she passed away, I found a set of "war" letters from her brother, who was a paratrooper killed on D-Day. Reading these, I felt a connection to family who died long before my birth. I seriously doubt this generation will read through old family emails.

  • ceatman Aug 27, 2009

    I think conversation is alive and well. Everywhere I look, somebody is on a cell phone.




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Bill Leslie