The Art of Conversation

A decent conversation is hard to come by these days. Instead of discussing subjects of meaning, most rubes find their comfort zone in gossip, tiresome and boring personal stories, recaps of ones mundane day, television, celebrities, and all of the other intellectually inferior subjects that roam so freely amongst the uneducated masses. It is increasingly more difficult to find someone to engage in a true conversation.

There was a time when the art of conversation was something special. Two or more people would engage each other, face to face, and speak to one another about various subjects. Be it philosophy, religion, politics, or other worldly subjects, the conversation provided a proving grounds, of sorts. There were arguments, points, counterpoints, and at least one person could walk away from the conversation affected in some way. Perhaps they realized that they know less than what they thought they did or perhaps they were given a new angle to explore a particular subject. Sometimes egos were bruised.

In this day and age, it’s far easier to converse in a format with a cap of 140 characters or abbreviated slang. It’s becoming easier to not converse in a purist sense, but to exchange acronyms lacking grammatical correctness and proper spelling. There was a time when we had the ability to write a letter to someone. The act of composing various words and phrases into coherent lines of text that expressed meaning is quickly falling by the wayside. It’s far easier to send a brief email or perhaps a long email containing a wall of text with total disregard towards the fundamentals of composition.

Most conversations of the day include far too many references to “I” and personal anecdotes of a trivial nature that bare no importance in reality. People wax endlessly upon unremarkable things, trying their best to make it something grand, but typically falling just shy of mediocre. The drive to excel and do well have been replaced by brief and sloppy.

I can remember a lot of truly good conversations that I had. For example, an old friend of mine used to sit around with me and for hours we would talk about chess and games played between some of the masters. We would discuss political matters late in to the evening hours — often sipping wine while digesting an intricately prepared meal. Human interaction is at an all time low. Even with the vast amounts of technology designed to keep us ‘together’ or in ‘contact’ we are becoming more and more isolated.

Of course, this may seem awfully hypocritical, especially considering my self proclaimed (and proven) misanthropic stance, but I will admit that engaging someone in a decent conversation can be fun. I tend to despise most people I encounter, but there a few exceptions that shine brighter than the rest and can even command my respect from time to time.

While there may be some people with whom I can share a decent conversation with, there are also those that initially appear to be a good candidate that fall apart quickly. The only thing worse than having a conversation with an idiot is having a conversation with an individual who believes they are intelligent, yet sit in the unremarkable category with all of the other idiots. Then there are the “something to prove” types that just go on and on talking about their accomplishments, the things they have done, actually believing that the brain between the ears they are directing their mundane dialog to is not listening, but rather thinking of new and exciting ways to disable their ability to vocalize for the rest of their lives. We must also not forget the overly opinionated — they are still in abundance. The type of people who have to interject their own unique ideologies into situations where their opinion was not asked for, yet when challenged they quickly turn into defensive monsters. Suddenly their mission is not to simply express a particular opinion, but try to impose that opinion on you.

So I often find myself at a crossroad in daily life. Being as though I’m not interesting in trying to have a conversation of substance with the majority of the people that I am stuck being surrounded by, I rather enjoy “playing the fences” many times. It’s quite fun to be adversarial, just for the sake of be adversarial. If someone expresses interest in politics on one side of the fence, I’ll often take the other — not because I truly agree with the opposite view, but because I fail to see the value in speaking with unintelligent plebeians, and therefore I turn it into a game. Other times, I simply shake my head and do my best not lash out in a quick burst of physical anger.

There are some folks out there who know how to hold a decent conversation. Unfortunately, the culturally devoid and under-educated area that I am currently located in tend to not harbor those types. Ultimately, I will leave this area and move on to better horizons where the people are more unique, understand the subjects that I am interested in, and perhaps get to enjoy some decent conversation once again.

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