There is a reason why we miss our old college days.
Back then we could have a good, meaningful conversation with our friends even in the middle of the afternoon on the way to class. The most intense discussions happened in the middle of the night in hostel rooms where everyone gathered and the atmosphere would be lit – as charged as Indian parliament after a scam.
During these conversations, we got to know so much about the world, about the other people and about ourselves too.
We listened to the other person when they spoke and we actually reflected back on their words long after the conversation was over.
And we used to be at complete ease about what we said and wanted to say – even if the things we said were controversial. We did not think about how our friends would feel or if they might get offended – because if they did get hurt, they would come to us and tell us that they got hurt.
These conversations used to satiate our hearts and minds. Yes, we would feel taxed and a bit tired but it was a good kind of tired – the kind we get after a good session of working out.
Fast forward to the present and most of our conversations only skim the surface of everything.
We talk about events, what this person did and how that person reacted and OMG he probably should not have. We talk about what’s the best (THE BEST) restaurant to hang out at because it has like 300 types of beer and cocktails and OMG we could have so much fun! We talk about how much we slept over the weekend, what we shopped, and the TV show that blew our mind.
But no one wants to talk about how any of these things made them feel.
Because we are afraid that we will be judged.
Because we are afraid that what we speak might just offend the other person.
Because we know, deep inside, no one actually cares how the Syria bombings made us feel.
We politely smile and nod our head in agreement when we are stuck in the midst of such “small talk” and we wait for it to get over. And later when it is all over we just go home and regret the time we wasted just sitting there indulging in the small talk.
And that is why it’s important – we are alive for such a short amount of time we cannot just waste it on conversations like these, where everyone talks but no one speaks.
Where everyone hears but no one listens. And if conversations do get animated it is just because everyone wants to be heard and no one wants to listen. Laughter is hollow and no one smiles sincerely and no one frowns or gasps.
Those empty coffee cups on the table could have seen much more but we held back.
In contrast, we blurt out so much online. We are more comfortable in texting on WhatsApp rather than have the same conversation one on one. Maybe it is because we do not have to deal with people’s real reactions personally.
The movie Her is so relevant in our times where the protagonist connects better with a computer than with real people. The movie’s director Spike Jonze says – “Technology is helping us connect and preventing us from connecting.”
But technology is not the reason we are not able to have a meaningful conversation. We have become an impatient lot, an intolerant lot. We cannot deal with opinions that go against us. We cannot wait to impose our views upon the others.
And in all of this impatience and intolerance, we lost the ability to have a meaningful conversation. It has made introverts out of us.
If only we had a time machine to just go back in time to revisit our college days.
Or it would be a lot easier to be more open minded and courageous to have an actual conversation with people.