Have you ever arrived somewhere and realise you haven’t spoken to anyone that morning or even day? Then discover that you have no voice? If the answer is ‘no’ it might mean one of two things: You wake up in the morning and immediately have someone to talk to – face to face I mean. You often talk to yourself – aloud so will be aware of your voice or lack of.
While I do have a housemate and often sing 90s hits to myself, I have had a couple of instances when I have gone without speaking to anyone for a considerable length of time, then when finally the opportunity of face-to-face communication happens I discover my voice has gone. I have seen hundreds of people that day but haven’t spoken to anyone.
I’m sure this is not that unusual in a 2016 world. Yes, we communicate – we don’t lack communication with Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, texts, emails – so much communication these days can be done without even using our voice. A pair of thumbs will do.
So what am I getting at? Honestly I would like the world to get back to the art of conversation.
I see kids on the bus not speaking to each other because they are listening to music, whatsapping, tweeting, facebooking, instagramming – staring mindlessly at a piece of plastic. Maybe I should be pleased that they’re not all talking and making a racket but honestly it worries me that they can’t hold a conversation between themselves without being interrupted or distracted by a ping, a ring or a whistle.
I’m not only talking about teenagers, we are all to blame. I’ve watched a group of adults at a bar. As soon as one finishes what they are saying or even while he’s still speaking, others are sliding their phones out of their pockets to see if anyone has liked the photo they’ve just posted of them with their friends in the bar. Even in our staff room, sometimes I realise no one has said anything for about 5 minutes because we’re all too busy sending messages to other people.
Technology is great and I’m very thankful for many of the social networks available especially as I live abroad – they are a great way to stay in contact with family and friends. But what I do disagree with is using these social networks to avoid actually socialising with the world around us.
People spend a lot of time waiting. We wait at the checkout, bus stop, train station, airports. We wait (especially if you live in Italy) a long time at the post office or any other public office for that matter. We wait for friends when they are a few minutes late – and what is the first thing we do? Get out our phone and look at something virtual to occupy our minds (or thumbs) because God forbid we have to sit there and twiddle them or engage with the world.
That’s why I’m setting myself a challenge. I’m going to make conversation. What I want to try to do is to take opportunities in my daily life to start conversations. Stop and chat with people that I just say ‘hi’ to occasionally, like the lady who cleans the stairs in our building, or the old guy at church who I’ve seen a million times but still can’t quite remember his name. Not being afraid to start a conversation with the random person sat next to me at the post office and to take advantage of our shared waiting time. Making strangers – ‘not strange’.
So my blog will be this – to find my ‘lost voice‘. The voice I ignore when I’m scrolling on Twitter and avoiding eye contact with those around me. I hope to take advantage of waiting and not see it as another opportunity to check Facebook.
Hopefully it will be an interesting experiment – if nothing else a few entertaining anecdotes about an awkward Brit in Verona.