© 2016 E. R. Smith All Rights Reserved
There was a time, not long ago, when people spoke with one another. Conversation was a wonderful way to know who your neighbors were, what’s the newest news on the block, it was comforting. Yes, conversation was a bit nosy and intrusive, however it seems to have kept us safer…more connected. Conversation began in childhood, we spoke to our friends on the playground. We organized who would turn or jump for double-dutch. We looked at one another as we spoke, to learn what the twitches and expressions our friend’s face meant. We put the verbiage together with facial changes to sense a deeper meaning. We stared unblinkingly at our partner’s eyes to assure that our chants and hands were synchronized during “Miss Mary Mack”. Adults encouraged conversation as they insisted we, “Look people in the eyes when you speak, and speak clearly, politely.” During April 1, we carefully studied our pals faces and facial adjustments; so as not to be made a fool. Conversation was an important part of the community.
As we grew we shared secrets with one another. We whispered in the dark under blankets or on a park bench. We scooted quietly closer while adults held conversation. We used some of these “too grown” conversations to develop our own style of speech amongst our friends. We studied friends closely as they retold tales, deciding based on all of the clues in front of us, which parts were true or embellished. Our voices comforted when the need arose, conversation was soothing. We sang together along with tapes, cd’s, “boom boxes”. We tried our best to copy the lyrical conversations in harmony. We played games to determine who was the wittiest with words. Which personality could use words with the fierceness of a lash? “Whooo Tahhh!” “Oh, you got dissed and dis-missed! We shouted with joy at the loser of the verbal sparring.
As we aged we talked of children to seek advice, or to be consoled by that friend who always knows just what to say. We spoke of wives, husbands, lovers, and Yes we gossiped. Happy chatter that enjoys every colorful adjective, verb, and noun used to retell a juicy story. We conversed at the barbershop, hair salon, on the bus, train, on the stoop, everywhere really.
Now I haven’t seen conversation in a long time. In certain areas I don’t see it at all. Where has conversation gone? Everyone has an earpiece on…I wonder what young ones learn from listening to these often loud one-sided conversations. Elderly, adult, and teen creatures sit quietly on the morning subway ride. Head and shoulders fused, bad posture all around, as they text…LOL…BFF…TTYL. Come to think of it personality has gone on hiatus as well! Teens mimic the newest personality on You Tube…and they converse by trying to out mimic one another. Where’s the game in that? Polite is something we know is gone…Mr. Trump has proved this. Teens will stubbornly elbow the meek to death on public transportation as they focus on apps, tweets, etc.
As people grow and grow apart. Text messages are used to dismiss the unwanted from a circle. Texts have no soothing tones, no emotions. Come to think of it some emotions are packing it in. Empathy, sympathy, sincerity are leaving communities quickly. Even imperfect phone conversations are halted by simply ignoring the phone. Lives are shared via Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram. Faces are hidden behind computer screens to cover true emotions, to lie, to evade. We see only the Photoshopped, crisp advertisement our “friends” share.
When anyone utters,”we have to talk” one wonders what tragedy, emergency, or argument is coming. We aren’t used to talking as the afternoon travel home reveals. The young sit comfortably in the suggested handicapped/elderly seats; as the old and infirm stand and hold on for dear life. Teens shout, curse, and basically disrespect one another. The new word for “dissed” is now “violated”. Kids misuse this word all of the time. “Ohhhh you got violated!” There is little personality, or creativity. Remember as teens when we created new words for the dictionary. Phat is a word to be proud of. Unless I observe an infant or toddler, I hear very little soothing tones. Teens listen with headphones and sing to Pandora, Rhapsody, if they can’t afford iTunes. There is no harmony sought in song or social situation. Adults learn from the young, and the new rude means no one is kind. Everyone learns to survive by acquiring the new demeanor of a surly teen on mass transit.
I miss conversation and the emotions it used to produce within my spirit. Listening to the elders made me funny if I do say so myself. I do say so because I really like saying stuff. Conversation should not be the sole property of college campuses and inquisitive classrooms. We are losing so much as it stays away. I cherish those in my world who mourn its moving on…to make room for? I don’t know? Quiet passive aggressive folks, who reach out only when WiFi is on? Mean self absorbed creatures who willing edge out the slow for seats on transportation so they can quietly take part in solitary play. We cheered the teen heroes of recent movies; The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Giver, who risk their lives to save humanity. Which city teen, in any large city in the world, is our hero? When will they find and rescue conversation? Well let me know if you know who.