Can we talk?

I was burning through Jennifer Fulwiler’s new book (One Beautiful Dream) a couple of weeks ago (very good, by the way!), but there was one place in the book that I paused for a minute to think, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Fulwiler was describing her regular conversations with a friend that lived locally at the time, and she said this: “We talked on the phone every day.” I put the book down. I thought for a minute about why that sentence sounded foreign to me, and a realization materialized that has been bothering me for quite awhile…

I rarely talk to my friends on the phone anymore.

When we are not hanging out in person, the trend is for us to text each other. I was suddenly aware of a phenomenon in my life that I greatly disliked, a pattern of behavior that had normalized itself within my relationships — perhaps with well-meaning intentions — and now dictates both the intimacy of my friendships and the frequency of conversations with those friends.

I thought back to a decade ago, before texting became standard protocol for regular communication with family and friends, when it was normal to have a phone conversation with a friend be part of my day. As I sat there, letting this realization hit me, I felt sad. I realized that I don’t like the status quo, and I would be willing to bet that many of you don’t like it either.

Now, I know some people’s defenses might be going up here, and you might be thinking: Oh, no. Here goes one of those anti-technology/anti-texting posts. Fear not. I find texting to be practical and useful for many quick points of connection in our daily lives (i.e., needed items from the store, double checking dates/times, quick answers, etc.), but I think we have definitely allowed quick connections to replace meaningful conversations.

Texting friends for a purpose that is text-appropriate makes good sense, but it has proved hard to prevent that format from replacing the need to have a conversation with a friend. The thing is…we have fooled ourselves into thinking that we are having conversations at all. Sherry Turkle unpacks this astounding trend in her 2016 book Reclaiming Conversation.

You might ask: Okay, what is the big deal here? We all lead busy lives, and we have a lot of stuff going on. Isn’t it good that we are doing these daily quick check-ins with friends? We are keeping “connected.” Isn’t that better than going a couple of weeks without seeing each other? Continue reading “Can we talk?”

New on CatholicMom.com…Space for Solitude

In case you missed last week’s post at CatholicMom.com about making space in our lives for solitude, here it is. Excerpt:

“Because we live in a world of devices that is full of noise, we have to do more than just set aside space for solitude; we have to protect that space as well. We have to be both offensive and defensive. What does that mean? It means asking yourself where you are vulnerable. Where and how does your solitude continually get interrupted? What technologies or uses of technologies allow you space for solitude, and what uses encroach upon it?”

If you have thoughts, comments or insights, feel free to post them here or there.

 

#GoodRead: Reclaiming Conversation

Reclaiming ConversationReclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, by Sherry Turkle, is one of the most important books for right now in both interpersonal relationships and public discourse. The main thesis: Digital technologies have consumed the time and spaces for conversations in our lives, and we are raising generations of young adults and children who don’t know how to have conversations. I found this book recommended in several places, and I am so glad I picked it up. (Actually, I listened to it read by Kirsten Potter — who was great!) I usually only recommend books on this blog that I think a wide range of people should read, and this is one of them. Why? Because the problems with our use of technology that Turkle addresses are problems that touch the daily interactions of 99% of the people I know, including myself! I wasn’t really surprised by anything in the book, but I was extremely surprised by how little I had previously considered the full impact of our devices on our relationships and our culture.

Though I don’t think people would describe me as someone who is “on her phone all the time,” I realized that I had allowed my phone (and the pull of everything on it) to be all too “present” to me at all times. I wasn’t too many pages in before I made some immediate changes to my iPhone notification settings and started to conceptualize an intentional use of digital devices in my life and the rhythms of our family. The book contained so many important critiques of technology, questions regarding normative uses of it, and sobering realities of its impact on us. Here are a few such points that grabbed my attention: Continue reading “#GoodRead: Reclaiming Conversation”