We need to talk

One of the subjects I took at uni was Knowledge, Ideology and Social Science (KISS).

This subject provided a critical analysis of the development of western knowledge structures such as modernity, and the philosophical and ideological assumptions underlying the social sciences and their impact on society. In simple terms, we looked at the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the birth of the scientific age. They were exciting times. The world was changing so fast.

One day the lecturer asked what might go through a person’s mind if they were snatched from their period and dropped into the 1990s.

The answers were fairly predictable: they would be amazed at our computers and other technology; means of travel; hearing that we’d walked Moon; our general wealth; our generally civil societies . . . all of which are probably true, of course.

But it wasn’t the answer the lecturer was looking for.

She said: “I think they’d be horrified to see that people don’t know how to communicate with each other any more”.

Over the years I’ve often mentally ridiculed her statement. Of course we know how to communicate. We have a phone attached to us wherever we go, we have email we can access at any time and we chat endlessly with people on Facebook and Twitter. But what do we do when we don’t have those luxuries at our finger tips? We feel like we’re shut off from the world. Some of us might read a newspaper or a magazine.

I bet none of us hop in a car and drive to a friend’s place for the mere pleasure of talking to them. I can’t remember the last time I did it.

My neighbour and I chat regularly . . . on Facebook. It’s so much easier than actually walking over and knocking on her door and dropping in for a chat. Goodness, life’s too busy for that! I’m too busy texting, typing, or Twittering.

The lecturer was right. The mademoiselle or gentleman from 1750 would be horrified at how we in the Age of Aquarius don’t know how to communicate any more.

What do you think?