In 1964, Paul Simon wrote a song that has lived a full life, being recorded by no less than 133 artists since that first rendition was released. That song, The Sound of Silence, in my humble opinion, is profoundly appropriate for today.
“And in the naked light, I saw ten thousand people, maybe more, People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening, people writing songs that voices never shared, and no one dared disturb the sound of silence.”
Have you ever sat in a doctor’s office, a restaurant, a waiting room, or even a movie theater when every chair was filled with people texting on their phones? No one talks to one another; we all just text, Instagram, snap chat or tweet. How impersonal! The art of a good conversation, I fear, has been lost.
As a “mature adult” my life has been one of talking, sometime to the distress of my parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors, teachers (who in kindergarten taped my mouth shut!) However, I can honestly say, I can carry on a decent conversation. Question, wait for response, acknowledge, ask another question, consider the answer, make an observation, wait for response, ask another question. Easy peasy. What happened to us in the last 20 yeas or so?
It is not so much my generation, or even the generation of our offspring; but their children, who worry me most. The song goes on to say, “Fools” said I, “You do not know silence like a cancer grows. Hear my words that I might teach you, take my arms that I might reach you,” But my words, like silent raindrops fell and echoed in the wells of silence.”
I recently celebrated a birthday and received 92 birthday wishes on Facebook. I also received three or four phone calls. We have become a society that feels we might be interrupting someone’s day, taking them away from their over-stuffed schedule or maybe a mid-day nap. So we text or Facebook a line or two, taking much less of their time, and certainly must less of my own. Yes, I am just as guilty! But how much more personal is a phone call with an actual voice on the other end of the line? Truly, there are times when a phone call is not convenient. Then I just don’t answer the phone.
We often play a game with family and friends called 20 questions. It goes like this: Ask a question to everyone in the room—What is your favorite color? Where is your favorite vacation place? Who is your best friend? Everyone has the chance to respond, and the answers change from year to year or month to month. I especially like playing with my grandkids when their parents aren’t around. But the questions get even deeper…. What do you want to do when you get out of school? What has been your most embarrassing moment? If money were no object and you had no fear of failure, what would you do with your life? It is amazing to hear the answers as children grow and develop into pre-teens, teenagers, and adults. Their life choices change from being a superstar to being a marine biologist.
Conversation-it’s an amazing way to communicate.
With the holidays around the corner, most of us will have some down time to get together with family and friends. Why not make one of your days a “technology free” day? Engage your children and grandchildren into a conversation where you learn something new about them and share something they don’t know about you. Maybe it is time to teach the lost art of conversation.
(A great rendition/video of the song Sound of Silence is by the Mccabeats on YouTube. It’s worth watching.)