A Requiem for Conversation


Charley Levine, Staff Writer

Perhaps the nagging words of our parents that admonish us for being so far plugged into our devices and so out-of-touch with one another have come to hold a certain volume of truth. Perhaps our generation is reluctant to admit that we have become unsettlingly resemblant of zombies on call. Or maybe we really have been rendered blind by the screens that have come to displace authentic day-to-day interactions. All things considered, the time is far due to acknowledge what has become concerningly obvious: the culture of conversation has profoundly and permanently changed. Or perhaps, to put it plainly, conversation is dead.

Despite technology’s objectives to link civilization, we have become far more distant than ever before. Restaurants once full of the lively chatter exchanged between families are now populated by young children pacified by iPads at tables engulfed in silences. We have spawned a generation of children who have, statistically, developed a dexterity in their thumbs. Chatbots have become stand-ins for companions. Pedestrians stroll the streets, each symmetric in stature: arms bent to a ninety degree angle, heads bowed downwards, eyes entranced by hand-held devices. At this point, the signs are too striking to ignore.

Admittedly, Generation Z has had a rough go. Shaped by the accelerated interference of artificial intelligence and polished off by the coronavirus, we have undoubtedly become well acquainted with adversity and isolation. Years later, we continue to face the lingering effects of these issues, and our population, befittingly, has collectively become more reserved and socially withdrawn. Cases of social anxiety have climbed, and technology time and time again has proven to be the root of the problem.

We have entered into uncharted territories, and so far, in the face of advancing technology, we have failed to properly grapple. Electronic devices have become social props, speaking over the phone to casually converse with friends seems quaint, and eye contact has become “uncomfortable” or “awkward.” No wonder our parents, who grew up in an age devoid of electronic devices and digital applications capable of completing complex tasks, mock us for our diffidence and unsociable habits. 

As the traditional social etiquette system dies out, our generation has begun to define new conventions of communication in a world dominated by digital platforms. Whether this is beneficial or detrimental is difficult to judge, but in any respect, the future is inevitable and fast approaching. To many, technology poses a formidable threat to face-to-face conversations and comfortability before new faces. To others, it has ushered in more convenient approaches to making progress and completing tedious tasks.

In debating this polarizing topic, it can be difficult to pick a side. Does technology mean the death of sociable individuals? What does a future of chatbots and flying cars entail for the mental and social state of humans? Only time will tell.