The Art of Conversation

Published: April 1, 2016

Ruth FitterIn a week where the government warned about the lack of language skills in our children and an experiment by Microsoft to see how an artificial intelligence called ‘Tay’ could learn how to tweet from the comments that were posted by others came to prominence, the art of conversation has been upper most in my mind.

Or rather, should I say, the lack of it.

Our children are losing out in developing their language skills as less time is taken to talk face-to-face with one another. Language development needs not only aural skills but visual cues too.

As for Tay, ‘she’ began with a handful of innocuous tweets but has now had to be taken ‘off-line’ for a stream of anti-Semitic, racist and sexist invective as it repeated back insults hurled its way by other Twitter users.

What has happened to conversation? The art of telling story? The wonder of developing language that we might attempt to describe the deepest mysteries of life with one another?

On Easter Sunday Mary is charged by the risen Christ to run and tell the good news to the disciples. Nowadays, Mary might have posted it on Facebook or tweeted to let them know, but there is nothing that will ever beat a face-to-face conversation. Christ calls Mary by name. God wants us to be in personal relationship with him and others. ‘Tweets’, ‘posts’ and ‘likes’ have their place in our world but only when used for positive good. If you do one thing this week make sure you sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with someone. Please.

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