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Why We Don't Talk To Each Other Anymore: The De-Voicing of Society Paperback – August 31, 1999
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Bruce Headlam The New York Times A lot of what Locke writes about...will make emotional sense to anyone exhausted after a day of pages, phone calls, e-mail messages and talk radio.
Jay Walljasper Utne Reader A level-headed look at how contemporary society is in danger of losing the most basic building block of human civilization -- spirited conversation.
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This amazing book delves into a subject which is coming to the forefront. Just what are we losing by being so advanced in communications? Alot. Rich moments of physical contact, eye contact, a closeness of the human spirit which propels us to care. Everything is becoming too cold now, impersonal. Don't get me wrong, I have a fax, computers, pagers, cell phones and use them all. I also took a hard look at myself and others who enjoy such "toys". I like taking the easy way out. And the more e-connected I am--the more I lose in communal inspiration.
Author , John Locke, explains that talking, simple talking, a la sitting on the bench in front of the old soda shoppe, pulling back a swig of an icy bottle of root beer, discussing something as simple as the weather or the school bake sale, builds and maintains relationships. Without the personal touch, we are losing sense of self. We are becoming a tunnel visoned society. Not that these wonderful inventions are not helpful or needed, but at what cost?
I was on a cruise ship a few months ago. Before we left port, I was sitiing on the aft deck, relaxing, people watching, anticipating making new acqaintances. As I looked around, I counted at least 20 people on their cell phones. I shook my head, checked my purse, I had my Nokia--turned off. Thank goodness after embarkation, those phones did not work. My gosh, people were actually forced to talk to one another! And it was fruitful to be reminded that asking questions, listening, looking into someones eyes as they bragged about this or that--was a lost pleasure, the lost art of conversation.
I agree with the contents of this interesting profile by this psycholinguist. In fact I applaud it. It's the old story, let's get back to basics. Put the world on hold & let's talk, really talk. Before we just become faceless machines to one another.
Thanks for your interest & comment votes--CDS
I don't deny that our problems as people and as societies are complex, but I do not think that such complexities are enough to dismiss the interpersonal elements that form our social foundations, even if they seem relatively insignificant. I find that akin to telling a person that "they don't matter", that any one person is incapable of forming change.
This is a book. Any copy of the book is designed for one reader at a time. So it is supposed to hit the reader as a person, in a grass-roots sense. I found that it was a good explanation when I observed my own behaviors and manner of thinking. I'm a young adult; and I would much rather help myself, my family, and my community from the bottom-up than the top-down.
I think this book greatly reinforced that attitude.
While I have no problem with what he said, and must admit he writes both well and entertainingly, he seems to view everything around him exclusively in terms of interpersonal dynamics, which is not surprising given his background as a psycho-linguist. But to advance a thesis arguing that all we need to do to begin to effectively set aside the tortured and complicated evils of the 20th century is to "just talk to each other, really talk" is patent nonsense, and he should certainly know better. It makes little differnce whether we talk face to face or over electronic devices, most of what we say is of such little consequence and has so little to do with anything that matters that the particular technology employed is close to irrelevant. The fact that he apparently doesn't understand this, or at least does not specifically acknowledge the primary role of the virtual revolution of social and cultural changes associated with the rise of technology and technological innovation in the manifest woes that confront us, has the unfortunate consequence of misinforming and confusing people looking for simplistic answers to devilishly complex cultural realities. Sad as it is to say, we can't just kiss this booboo and make it go away. To suggest we can is just plain wrong.
Thus, getting back to basics, as another reviewer claims we need to do, is a ridiculously reductionistic oversimplification of what we need to do to rescue ourselves from the mischief of ourselves. It reminds me of Rodney King's plaintive plea asking "can't we just all get along?" Or, as Pogo once said, the enemy is us. Yet it is precisely because we are children born into and raised as natives in this schizophrenic material culture that we are singularly unable to see beyond the confines of our own quite specifically organized way of looking at, interpreting, and interacting with reality that we are now so painfully dissociated and alienated from each other. Everything within our contemporary cultural environment serves to guide us away from each other and to regard each other with suspicion, distrust, and growing hostility. In such a late stage of profound social dissolution, to suggest we can just "talk our way out of it' by being real with each other is to deny what the culture, and we as members of it, have become. It is also a dangerous delusion to suppose it is as easy as all that. Dancing down the yellow brick road just won't work. This is a silly and wrong-headed book. Avoid it.