The End of Spontaneous Conversation


Spencer Wu
Staff Writer

There are sentiments flying around that advancements in technology are a curse in disguise because they limit natural human discourse. This is shown through the rampant use of smartphones as an accelerated medium of communication. Not only does using smartphones alter the way people talk to one another, it also threatens the fundamental backbone of human interaction: candid and spontaneous conversation.

With the advent of the smartphone, people have the ability to coordinate what they want to say and how they want to be presented. This sort of technological gratification brings about a sense of control. This is the problem. People could eventually outgrow having simple, candid discussions because they won’t see the need for it. Eventually, typing on an iPhone could become the norm for communication while traditional, unplanned forms of conversation take a backseat. Too much control, whether it be the user’s or the device’s, is a troubling sign.

Surely, the ability to plan out what we want to say, like checking for grammatical mistakes and consistent verb tense, is advantageous. People want to portray themselves in the best light possible for obvious reasons. A well thought out message exudes confidence and intelligence. However, this by no means is an accurate portrayal of an individual because the candor of human interaction is missing.

What isn’t captured by a text bubble – that is represented in a regular back-and-forth conversation – are all the tiny nuances like tone and facial expression. These elements, the very things that make our language beautiful, are lost in translation. A small stutter or the pronunciation of the word provides context to the background of the speaker. The departure from established forms of conversation will change the most basic modes of communication. Too much control will inevitably lead to the downfall of traditional forms of discourse.

Take the movie Her for example. The protagonist falls in love with an artificially intelligent gadget that speaks and interacts with him. The relationship soon blossoms into a loving one and his perception of the real world goes awry. He is so consumed by artificial control provided by the machine that he essentially neglects everything else in his life. Spike Jonze’s romantic film is not just Hollywood’s interpretation of society’s infatuation with modern technology. It is more of a harbinger of the obfuscated reality that people will endure if their lives are dictated by the technological double-edged sword. People need to find a happy medium between self and device in order to grow socially.

Elders persistently chastise the millennial generation for their technological dependence. They claim that America’s youth is always engaged on their phone and that candid conversation is headed towards extinction. However, this rings true in any type of gathering of peoples. It is no longer commonplace for people to converse in a free-flowing manner, but rather their tendencies guide them to be on their phones. This soon will bring about the downfall of engaging and insightful conversation because the skill is lost amid the screen tapping.

The arrival of artificial intelligence has supplanted itself into the fabric of society and is leaving a lasting impression. Nowadays, instead of having a face-to-face conversation, young people are busy burying their faces in handheld devices. Instead of bringing people together, this technology separates people into their own controlled technological spheres. These barriers prevent people from striking up candid and spontaneous conversation, a basic tenet of human society. This trend must be bucked if we want to preserve our traditional mode of communication.