Is the art of conversation becoming extinct, being replaced by e-mail, instant messaging and other high tech communication? As we become more disconnected from our communities, what’s happening to us? Catie Gosselin offers her view.
I heard a very interesting commentary on NPR (National Public Radio) the other week. The speaker drew comparisons between current architectural trends and the typical lifestyle of the day. In a nutshell, he proposed the shrinking of public spaces (the generic office cubicle for example) and the increase in private spaces (the trend in building oversized houses or suite-like master bedrooms) mirrors our culture’s shift from community-concerned living to individual-focused living.
The notion of the local corner store where townspeople gather for conversation and a sense of community is gone. We communicate, instead, in short, clipped emails or voicemail, devoid of any personal interaction. The art of conversation is becoming a thing of the past.
The emotional investment in the relationship, whether at work or in our communities, is also wearing away. Take a look at the decline in voter participation, and this trend is apparent. Most non-voters feel apathy towards the process. Why take the time to vote if you do not feel part of the community?
Later that week, I heard another piece on a study examining the increase of anxiety levels in children. The researcher drew upon studies from the 1950s to current day, and was able to track a clear rise in anxiety. She also proposed a correlation between this anxiety and increasing reports of depression in all age groups.
A need to be connected
If we do not feel emotionally invested in our communities, our neighborhoods, or our families, it only makes sense that anxiety is on the rise. Without a sense of ‘connectedness,’ how can we raise our children to be confident, secure adults?
The irony is how modern life has made it so easy for someone in Dayton, Ohio to connect with someone in Sydney, Australia, but the simple act of conversing with your neighbor has become antiquated.