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Saturday essay: Can we talk?

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Friday, April 5, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, people may well wonder whatever happened to the art of conversation — you know, when folks actually talked to each other.

Next time you're in a restaurant, movie theater before the show or some other social setting, take note of what people are doing. How often do you see Mom, Dad and the kids sit down, pull out their smartphones (or whatever other devices they carry around) and start texting and/or tweeting away? Or maybe they're browsing the Internet for the umpteenth time.

Especially with young people, whether they're hanging out at the mall, waiting for a meal or simply spending time with friends, out pop the cellphones.

This is not to suggest a Luddite mentality toward remarkable technology that, in so many ways, makes life easier. But for a middle-aged fella who rarely ever texts or tweets, the question arises: Are these modern conveniences being used to excess — and at a detriment to how people reason and communicate?

How often do we text when a phone call would be more appropriate? How much time do we spend putting up minutiae on Facebook? And how many times in casual conversation with young people do we notice that there's no eye contact whatsoever? Just a blank expression — perhaps reminiscent of the Eloi in H.G. Wells' “The Time Machine.”

Tonight at dinner, turn off the phones, put away the tablets and enjoy a good ol'-fashioned engaging conversation. And let's hope that never goes out of style.

— Bob Pellegrino

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