I lament the demise of the art of good conversation. I’ve been working abroad for close to 8 years now, and in that time, I realize my conversation skills have deteriorated to the level of Neanderthal. How can one regress that bad? I’ll tell you how — years of brain-mushing, soul-crushing, vocabulary-shrinking non-talking to people here.
I’ll call it as I see it: No one here makes the effort to keep up a decent conversation anymore. And I don’t even look for witty banter; I just want a minimum amount of articulation, a world view, an informed opinion. Believe me, I’ve tried. Countless times. Standing in line at chow, opening with, how bad does that chicken look, do you really like asparagus, did the Talibans win today? Not much in reply. Mostly a grunt or two, some vague syllables running together, maybe a stupefied look on their faces. Yes, you — I am talking to you, make an effort to answer coherently.
It’s so sad — no — it’s downright miserable to have to sit with people that appear animated, but stay mute. It’s like watching TV with the sound off. Pointless, like an admission of defeat.
I miss being engaged in a good discussion. I miss having my brain cells stimulated, sitting with other people around a table full of wine and tapas, arguing over world events, the impending nukes from NK, guerrilla art taking over the streets, the deadly politics of drugs, heck, even what new fashion trends are popping up in the streets NY and elsewhere. I miss being asked to think for myself, having to cultivate an informed opinion, or being corrected for an erroneous one. I miss the civilized discourse that is the exclusive province of all humans, the thing that sets us apart from the animal. Conversation skill is the equivalent of having an opposable thumb in one’s brain, able to touch all lobes and bring forth an engaging discourse.
But instead, we sit mute in separate chairs and look down on our hands, when we should have had evolved so far as to look up and say something to each other.
Fellow human, talk to me.