Periodically, in this blog, I will digress from Ireland travel and Irish family document related topics to opine about some other subject directly or indirectly related to the Irish and Ireland. This is one of those occasions.
The art of conversation is alive and well, and blossoming in Ireland. You can observe it and participate in it everywhere you go in Ireland, especially in public places like shops, pubs, and restaurants. In the USA, however, the art of spirited, spontaneous, impromptu conversation among strangers in public places is gradually being assaulted and sabotaged by electronic devices! Recently, while riding the Washington, DC metro subway, I was surrounded by Generation X (Y, or whatever capital letter applies today!) adults, each feverishly banging away on their Blackberries and Smart Phones. They were oblivious, of course, to the world around them. It’s a lonely existence on the subway these days.
Now, you must wonder, “What the heck does this have to do with the Irish and Ireland”. I’ll tell you. When I lived in Dublin in the late 1970’s, the spirited, spontaneous, impromptu conversations among strangers in public places was wonderful to behold! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that this lively interaction among strangers still exists today in Ireland. Call me old fashioned (maybe out of touch), but I found that riding public transportation, with people engaged in lively conversations, to be a much more enjoyable and relaxing experience, than with people transfixed and mesmerized (zombies?) by electronic devices. Anthropologists, sociologists, and other ‘gists could have a field day, studying and postulating on the potential deterioration of human verbal communication skills, as a result of a growing preference to communicate electronically (using hands, thumbs, and fingers!) with other human beings. Whatever happened to a good old-fashioned chat or “natter”? Let’s save the art of conversation! Banish those conversation blues! Come to Ireland to tune and sharpen your conversation skills. Are you with me? What do you think? (Yes, it’s okay to communicate with me electronically. Type away!)