Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Are We Losing The Art of Conversation (literacy deficit disorder) by Dyslexia Dublin, © 2014

The decline of human interaction has led to a huge number of teenagers and young adults going into higher levels of education with a low standard of punctuation, grammar and comprehension… in many cases struggling to build even a short report or story.  The backbone of story writing comes from the gathering of information both from creativity and also by absorbing the word of others.  There is a distinct possibility this may lead to a fall off in creative writing in the near future with less books being written.

It is incredible how far we have come since the Stone Age… we had no form of speech (grunting at best) or the ability to read or indeed write and now we are reverting at a pace!  There is an increase in speech delay and speech related problems (increases in the need for speech and language resources) and also growing numbers of people with short term memory loss, … why?  We need to ask why.

With the birth of modern media, face to face conversation has fallen way down the scale as a way of getting information from one party to another.

We have the internet and a wide use of mobile phones, made possible by a reduction in cost and improved technology.  This leads to conversations being made bit part… texts tend to have character limits, less chatting by phone, through to communication by short messages (140 Twitter/Facebook) we even see things like #this and #that.

I can appreciate the benefits of this fast moving, portable means of communicating with others and to some degree am guilty of same.  And it should be said that this has increased spontaneous conversation that possibly never happened in times gone…people with learning needs suffer more than most as they already have problems with conversation and short term  memory.

Many, including myself, could be classed as living in the past, but strong evidence backs the fact that conversation face to face or over dinner creates the opportunity for many to increase their word bank… something still seen in many cultures including mainland Europe.

I asked someone the other day to pen a short story and they said they couldn’t think of anything to say… when asked had they read a book, picked up a newspaper or listened to the news recently the reply was “No, why?”.  So much has disappeared over the last decade… we can now programme our TV boxes to record individual shows based on its perceived thoughts regarding our prior programme choices (scary thought!) and even skip through the news and ads… we are also witnessing the decline of the daily newspapers.

I know there are benefits for having mobile comms… certainly it has huge positives for the business world.  On a personal level, we can have chats and be in touch while on the move, on breaks at work and, even whist doing things like cooking, etc… the downside of this can lead to the person at the other end feeling like they are playing second fiddle and not having your full attention, which in some cases can lead to feelings of inadequacy.  Friends sit over coffee and text away… how does this make the others feel (less important) or when you stop chatting to answer a call or send a text.
Why have we stopped writing letters, even on holidays I can remember my parents writing postcards, few do now…if you tell your loyal followers you are abroad they are less likely to contact you due to roaming costs.
It is also worth noting how more often than not these conversations are rushed.

I wonder with contact so readily available, will there come a point in time where society runs out of things to say to each other, but continues to constantly make calls simply because of availability?

We have also reached the point where we see society becoming more hurtful and it is now accepted by many to end relationships and many other things (like missing a day’s work, or resigning from your job) by text/email rather than doing it face to face… we can also do this on impulse and maybe even regret our actions.  Many of our top Universities are highlighting this as a serious issue… we are even seeing predictive text entering written reports and assignments.

What of the older generation and those with specific learning needs who depend on conversation to feel wanted and part of society?  For many it’s an easy way to expand our vocabulary and improve general knowledge.

 It is such a shame that this is looked upon as almost amusing and there are those that deliberately kill conversations which improve our ability to do many other things.

We can order fast food online and even our daily groceries… we can walk into a bank and out again without a spoken word and walk into many stores without any human interaction.  Even in Mc Donald’s you can pay by touch screen and just collect when your order number pops up.  I noticed recently in Japan the introduction of robots to work in hospitals with in-built stereo typical chat lines.  Where will this all end?  Well, it’s up to us to get back the art of conversation and the place to start is with the young… sitting around the table to have dinner was a tradition and a great opportunity for parents to see problems on the horizon.  What happens in most households is dinner being eaten in front rooms and bedrooms as they all head off to chat on their comms!

There are some who try to build in social ground rules whilst out for coffee or a meal with groups of friends, who are just fed up waiting for their friends to finish texting to carry on with their chat, but they are the minority and to some degree fighting a losing battle.  At least in America there is a trend for people dining out in restaurants to put their phones in the centre of the table and first one to use theirs, pays for the meal!
The art of conversation lies in our hands, why can’t we turn back the clock and have those dinner time chats…coffee with friends, try it for a month and look at the difference. Many who suffer with depression could also have less chance to hide the fact in open conversation (body language), its much easier to carry it off through texts or emails.

*Comms = phones, ipads, tablets. check out these resources and more at

NB. This information is from personal experience and research and also partly sourced through the work of others. It is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia and to offer helpful advice. Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2014

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