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Conversation Starter

Real conversation is a lost art. It’s been replaced with two-word texts where sentiment has been swapped for emoticons and tone is completely undecipherable. It’s kinda sad when an entire discussion can be tipped in one direction with the simple use of an exclamation point or full stop.

There’s no doubt texting is a great way to easily communicate but it’s also a real pain in the ass. My phone dings all day long letting me know there’s yet another message waiting to be read. When I finally do manage to pause and read them, I find a batch of responses saying “thanks” or “hahaha” to group chats. For the sake of whatever sanity I have left, please don’t respond to a group text like this… it’s the equivalent of ‘reply all’ when replying to an email. Have some manners, people

Then there are the annoying and endless barrage of ping-pong messages. You know, the ones where the tête-à-tête goes on and on and on, and you find yourself getting nowhere very slowly. I trained myself to stop replying when I see this happening and call the person. Time is precious, and I don’t have extra minutes laying around waiting to be wasted in a back-and-forth discussion when I can be washing the dishes and talking at the same time – a one minute phone call can rectify a situation, keep me from getting annoyed and empty my dishwasher at the same time.

Texting is also a troublemaker. Have you ever sent a text when you were super pissed? I know I have, and it usually doesn’t end well. The worst part is that the receiver will always have evidence of you being a jerk. It’s also vulnerable to screenshot forwarding… Not that I know anything about that. The concept of ‘for your eyes only’ is no longer part of life in 2021. Even if you’ve deleted the proof – it’s still somewhere out there.

Watching my children struggle connecting with others really bothers me. I feel like they don’t know what it’s like to chat. I try to casually deploy my gift of gab with my girls when driving in the car or when they get home from school… anything more than a grunt or one word response from one of them is sadly considered a win in my book. They typically look at me like I’m crazy and ask me to stop talking so they can get back to watching other people live their lives on TikTok. Insert the vomit emoji here. My greatest hope is that they engage with their peers at school where the phones are supposed to be put away. A parent can only hope.

Recently, I’ve been really trying to be more intentional with how much time I spend tethered to my phone. In so many ways it is my lifeline to the outside world – it keeps me connected to my husband when he’s travelling, my children when they aren’t home (or when they are in their bedroom and would like more screen time or French toast), it tells me when I need to be somewhere and how to get there, it reads me books, translates languages for me and allows me to pay bills with just a swipe. It’s incredibly hard to not pick up the glowing device.

To decrease my addiction to scroll, I’ve been using the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode on my phone when I need to stay focused. The ceaseless reminders are totally distracting and I’m certain if I pick up my phone to read whatever urgent message awaits, I will undoubtedly refresh my email and check Instagram. I mean, I might as well since I’m already sidetracked, right? Hitting the button to quiet my phone even for an hour allows me to be so much more productive.

The other thing I have been attempting regularly is calling people. I enjoy talking to my friends and just hearing the familiar sound of one of their voices can fill my soul. I realize not everyone is a phone talker, and to be honest – I’m not either, but the interaction is so much more personal.

Maybe it’s the nostalgia of being a teenager who had to wrap the kitchen phone cord tightly around the doorway so I could sit in the hall closet and talk to my friends in private – my dad would get so irritated, “You’re gonna break the cord, Claire. And just to be clear, no one cares about what you’re talking about, so you can come out of the hall closet.” Whatever it is, having a real conversation with the sound of laughter or even sorrow will always outweigh a gif or a Bitmoji any day. So, next time you pick up the phone – maybe you should use your voice and not your fingers.

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