12 August 2020
Conversations are necessary for our health
Many of us don’t realise the power of a conversation. Speaking to someone, whether it is a friend or a stranger, can completely turn around a bad day, or make a good day even better. We are social creatures. During the pandemic lockdowns across the world, we have seen mental health take a nose dive, and in some instances, those frustrated few, rife with cabin fever, leave the safety of their homes to experience the spoils of “normal” life like fast food or beauty treatments, even though it can put them at risk.
While we slowly return to our new normal, many are left scarred with the social side effects of the pandemic. Couples separated, relationships marred and friends drifted apart with a hint of unknown reparation about them. The need to talk, to have a conversation, has never been needed more. As we continue to navigate this post-pandemic world structure around us, we take with us our old stresses and anxieties and pack on the new ones, including but not limited to, job security fears, debt anxiety, and even the worry of if our friends are still our friends.
Every friend started as a stranger
If you think about it, you’ll see that headline is correct: every friend started as a stranger. When you meet someone, you know nothing about them, but through a series of conversations, you can get to know this person and decide whether you have enough in common or find them interesting enough to keep them in your friend circle. As a kid, talking to a stranger is easy, but as we get older, especially in our current social climate, adults are afraid to speak to each other the same way.
Children lack inhibition and can be accepted even if spoken out of turn; however, the same is not afforded to adults, leaving many people fearful of speaking to others unless necessary. Take one look at the tube during the morning or evening rush: no one speaks, just heads down on mobile phones and avoiding eye contact. These are social beings, avoiding each other due to imaginary social constraints that we have constructed for ourselves. Technology has allowed us to be able to speak to anyone, anywhere, at any time, but on the whole we are more lonely than ever before.
We all just want to belong
The paranoia of judgement is paralysing. People are fearful of speaking up, having an opinion, or even being friendly, as it can produce an undesirable result. But we all just want to belong. It’s the reason why so many live chat for websites do so well, since virtual strangers aren’t as scary as the ones in real life. Groups are able to congregate online to chat, game, or exchange ideas. Live chat rooms and chat for websites have been able to play a major role in starting conversations, which are paramount for mental health.
It can be difficult, but it’s important to break that cycle of fear. Just a simple smile or brief eye contact can increase someones’s sense of belonging and inclusion. Those who suffer from depression can be uplifted by a gentle gesture or brief smile, as many just want to feel acknowledged. A simple conversation can be life changing for someone who needs someone to talk to. We live in a world full of stress and anxiety, so showing someone a little compassion that costs nothing to you, could mean the world to the recipient.
How technology has improved communication
It’s impossible to talk about conversations without touching on how technology has massively improved communication on the whole. We started in the humble days of letters then telephone calls, and then moved to chat for websites and now apps. Those who live abroad can still connect with their loved ones as though they are still in the same country, and with video calling, they can see each other’s faces as though they were right there. While it’s not the same as a physical presence, technology has done its best so far in bridging the gap and will continue to do so. We can all look forward to holographic or even VR calling which will be able to, one day, put people graphically in front of you as though they were there, similar to the tech in Star Wars and many sci-fi films. This will revolutionise remote meetings entirely, but it’s an incredible thing to look forward to.
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