Does real conversation matter any more?

scientific americanWaiting in my chiropractor’s office, I picked up the September 2014 Special Edition of Scientific American on Evolution and read a fascinating interview with Sherry Turkle, a Sociologist at MIT. She asked an 18 year old male, “What’s wrong with conversation [vs. emailing]?” He answered, “It takes place in real time. You can’t control what you’re going to say.” Sherry commented that that is why a lot of people like to do their dealings on email–it’s not just the time shifting, it’s that you basically can get it right.

This struck a cord with me and made me think about pros and cons of using email as the ever increasing go-to for all forms of communication.

email typingMany, especially women, feel if they say it JUST RIGHT, that their listeners will better hear their message and behave or respond in a desirable way. Women have always rehearsed their speeches, read self-help books on communication, and sent long hand-written letters when they wanted to get their message across to a spouse, a child, or a boss. Now they email.

sendThe first problem that arises is that email turns even the most socially cautious person into an impulsive blabbermouth. A couple of quick revisions, if that, and our pointer finger hits the SEND button. And no more being able to fish poison-pen letters out of mail boxes with coat hangers. Emailing tends to disinhibit us. We say things in emails, usually off the top of our heads, that we would never say in person or even in a letter. We shout in ALL CAPS, belying our real timid mouse personalities. Our fingers tap out insulting and derogatory words we would never dare spout in public.

imhoThe second problem is that we begin to believe we have a real relationship with the person on the receiving end of our hyperspace missives. But they cannot hear the inflection in our voice or see the smile that says we are teasing, even when our emails are filled with a slew of IMHOs, LOLs, and OMGs. Nor can we see the smirk on their face as our words fall on deaf ears nor the faster than lightning move as they send our precious words to the trash bin hell.

The time delay (even the millisecond delay in instant messaging) prohibits a connection between emotions and words that can be so painful, or even delightful, in real conversation.

monkey keyboardSo with all its limitations and pitfalls, why are we as a nation and a world gravitating to email and similar forms of communication? Why are we allowing a brave new world of technology to degradate the one thing that most defines us a human beings, direct communication. We can teach a monkey to press keys on a keyboard and a remote voice on an iPhone can spout words at us. Sherry Turkle suggests that more and more people would actually settle for a relationship with “Her” of movie fame. Less messy.

I am the first to admit that email has often been the bane of my existence. Yes, I use it for convenience, but I also use it when I’m too fearful to speak the truth, when I think that a dozen revisions will make my words more acceptable or terribly enticing. I use it to force a connection that I know would never fly in person. I use it to circumvent my natural shyness, especially with the opposite sex.

email offendBut instead of making myself clearer, I make myself anathema, offending when not intending to do so, intruding where not welcome, badgering and manipulating, and then sending more emails to try to repair the damage.

What about blogging? Many of the same drawbacks but at least I’m giving you a chance to read or not read my pontifications. Yes, you can delete my emails without reading them. But who ever does that!

stutteringHere’s to real live conversations with all their hesitations, miscues, mumbling and stumbling, stuttering and stammering. Here’s to having a red face, a sweaty brow, and spinach between our teeth. And, most of all, here’s to precarious but precious moments of being human.

What every woman really needs…

2014-08-17 12.41.01A garden of roses? That special look in his eyes? The longing? The wink of approval? Knowing that as you’ve grown older together, you can dress alike at an event right down to the matching shoulder straps and the all-in-white look? Knowing he accepts you just as you are…fluffy body and all? A shared interest in racing? Is that what a woman needs?


2014-08-29 16.58.21NO!!! What every woman needs to soothe her soul and give her a new outlook of life is a great hair stylist who has known you forever and frets and snips so carefully, who takes her time to weave her comb through each new strand of hair, lathering it with color, wrapping it tenderly with foil, and when properly “baked”, gives you a fabulous scalp massage and VOILA! A new hairstyle to start the fall season with lifted spirits and a new outlook on life. Thanks for yesterday, Sonja! At almost 71, you keep me feeling and looking young.

Just One? ~ My KQED Perspective on Dining Alone

To hone my craft and just have fun, I have taken many classes at The Writing Salon, founded in 1999 by Jane Underwood as a school of creative writing for adults (beginners to advanced). The Writing Salon offers small classes held in comfortable, cozy settings complete with fresh-brewed coffee, tea and snacks in both San Francisco and the East Bay (Berkeley). I have taken a variety of classes from their wide selection from fiction writing to screenwriting to poetry.  Each class is small enough to ensure intimacy and individual attention. They also offer classes in personal essays, memoir, play writing, travel writing, food writing (chocolate and erotica not to be missed!), publishing and much more!

solo-diningBut certainly the most fun I had was taking a class on how to write a KQED Perspective from Jesse Loesberg who is a regular contributor to the Perspectives series on KQED-FM in San Francisco. Upon completion of the class, I sent my Perspective entitled JUST ONE? to KQED and was invited to come to their radio studio in San Francisco to record it. After many takes, the recording engineer assured me that we had a winner. And within a few days, I turned on my radio in the car on the way to work and felt my heart go into overdrive as they played my piece. Here is the actual recorded version from the KQED audio archives. JUST ONE?

The delightful photo above is from the Goddess of Adventure Blog. The author lists 5 top advantages to dining alone. I agree and have found dining alone in France or Britain or anywhere but America is quite the delightful experience. They really do have tables set for one!

Or play here: