The Crave for Conversation

This blog could also be titled, “The Life of the Luddite”. I’ve had a hard time choosing which one, because both incorporate themes and issues that tie together, regarding real conversations, technology and the growing struggle–or perhaps simply a struggle I’ve noticed–regarding communication. It’s something I’ve personally been struggling with for quite some time, yet because of my own ineptitude to communicate, have been unable to express what I’ve been dealing with to those it relates and matters to most.

I have to clear up a few things before I get to the root of what I’m dealing with. First off, as we all know, I’m a writer, a storyteller. So when you ask me how my day is, the answer usually isn’t going to be, “Oh, it was fine.” It’s going to be a fifteen minute tirade describing all the ups and downs of my day, including fine details, retelling of conversations I had and will probably be ten minutes too long, because you didn’t care to know all of those details.

I remember when I was in middle- and high-school, my Mom would ask that daring question: “How was your day?” Literally, it usually took about 45 minutes to an hour for me to answer it, as I had to describe not only my mood, but also what happened during each class, any drama that was going down, what assignments were due, how I barely survived the multiple miles ran during soccer practice, et cetera. I know, my Mom deserves an award for putting up with that every single day. While all of those details may not be important to the unfortunate listener having to listen to it, they were–and still are–important to me.

So I love to have in-depth conversations. Yet when it comes to confrontation or trying to express something that is bothering me, I can’t begin to even form words to describe what’s the matter. I close up, I shut people out and I avoid confrontation like it’s the plague and I haven’t been infected yet. Instead, I write my complaints, fears or stresses down. The amount of letters my parents or friends have gotten when I want to talk about something that is bothering me–whether it is a personal matter, something going on between us, something I am concerned about, whathaveyou–is ridiculous.

I’m not sure what causes this barrier. Perhaps it is because I am overly emotional and whenever I am stressed out, frustrated, nervous, overwhelmed, my instinct is to cry. I’m not overly ashamed of this, because I can’t control it. It’s just what happens. So by writing out my complaints or whatnot, I’m able to express myself and cry in the comfort of my own time and then usually, the correspondent is kind enough to write back in return, instead of having the conversation I don’t want to have, yet needs to happen. Oftentimes, a conversation still happens, but it always turns out better starting out through the letter or writing than if I approached them directly.

To sum up: I really like to have deep and meaningful and long conversations. However, I struggle to communicate regarding delicate topics or topics that will turn confrontational, so I write those out, instead. Kosher so far?

Next element: technology. I’m a self-proclaimed Luddite. A Luddite is someone who is against technology and the advancement of it. Of course, I’m a Luddite with an asterisks next to it. It’s not that I’m against the advancement of technology, completely. I just don’t want to it rule my entire life and be present in every aspect of my life. I love my laptop. I’m a huge gamer. I love having a phone that I can pull up a GPS and figure out where I am going, because I am directionly-challenged. I love that I can use websites like Facebook and Twitter to stay in contact with those I otherwise couldn’t or connect with other writers and authors that, otherwise, I would never met. So obviously I’m not on the “Destroy All of the Technology!” train (but that picture was too good to pass up). However, there are obvious choices that made my claim of being a Luddite stand out. I deleted all the social media apps on my phone so I wouldn’t be so attached. I can’t read ebooks and refuse to buy a Kindle. I just can’t do it. But the main reason, I have realized, is this:

Technology and media are exactly what I have to compete against for another human’s attention. And more often than not, I lose.

And finally, we reach the truth; the problem that I am dealing with yet don’t know how to deal with it. I crave communication. I want to have in-depth conversations with those I am close to, regarding little things that I turn into big things, like how my day–and also theirs–went, and the actual big things, like milestones and major events in our lives. And I want that on a regular basis. Daily, if I even dare.

But I’m finding myself, more often than not, going to bed irritated, frustrated and, quite frankly, feeling unheard. And a lot of it is because I am competing against the technology and the media that surrounds us all, and no matter how interesting a storyteller I am, I can’t compete, not against the distractions that prevail. But that’s not even the main problem. The main problem is I don’t know how to tell those who I feel are doing this to me that they are indeed doing this.

Smartphones are my biggest competitor. With so many apps available and with the stigma that you are expected to see and respond to everything–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, emails, texts, calls, news articles, Pokémon Go–immediately, it’s hard to have a human interaction when your companion is always craning their neck down staring a palm-sized screen, thumb constantly scrolling. If it isn’t a smartphone, it’s definitely a television. They are always on. Whether it is just there for background noise or there is a movie or TV show playing, the television is always on. And I’m not saying in order to have a meaningful conversation, you have to sit with another person alone in a room with complete silence. That’s not it at all. It would just be nice to be able to have a chat with someone with feeling like I’m competing against a pretty metal box. Or nice to walk into a room or have dinner and not have the TV on, automatically discouraging me from attempting to have a conversation, in fear that the same pattern of me–or them, as I am not above distraction at all–not being heard will emerge.

 :

I know that I ask a lot in regards to conversation. I say that because traditionally, “normal” or everyday conversations aren’t long-winded and detailed and in-depth. Yet mine are. So I know it is a lot to ask, to ask those I’m close to, to be available and attentive and distraction free at some point, every day, so that I can have these conversations. But I’m also tired. I’m tired of feeling second to technology. I’m tired of having all of these conversation topics sitting inside my chest and never getting the opportunity to voice them. I’m tired of being in the middle of a story and watch as someone is messing around of their phone during it; or turns their head to look back at the TV, their attention divided; or, worse–and it has been happening more and more lately–slowly trailing off in my own story and my listener not even realizing that I had stopped talking and never realizing that I didn’t finish my story. Showing that they weren’t invested enough to listen to it. Even if it is just a too-lengthy story about what happened throughout my day.

I want to feel important and I want to feel heard.

Yet, here is the other caveat: I know the people who do this to me the most aren’t doing it maliciously or purposefully. Hell, they probably don’t even realize that they are doing it. And I know that, if I point it out to them, that they are going to feel guilty or ashamed and will do their best to change that behavior. And though I really don’t think this would happen, I have a small fear that my request–to have an opportunity or a time to catch-up on a daily basis without distractions–could be turned into a joke, with someone dramatically turning off the TV or pointedly making a show about their phone being turned away before we chatted.

I don’t want conversations to turn into big deals or cause problems with other people. I want them to be natural. And I don’t want to make people feel bad or guilty, which is the main reason why I haven’t brought this up to anyone. (Aside from my best friend, whom I have expressed all of this to. And she does a fantastic job of balancing technology and our conversations, often giving me the attention and conversation that I crave. Unfortunately, due to conflicting work schedules, I hardly get to see her, so our chances to converse like this have become rarer occurrences than they once were, which might also be a reason why these other stilted conversations are so jarring, because I literally have no other outlet).

So, this is me, writing about what I am going through. I posted it on the blog in hopes that readers may have advice about how I could approach this with my family and friends that I feel this happens to me with. Because of my fear of inflicting guilt or shame, I haven’t even gotten the courage to write letters to present my feelings, like I usually do. So I’m looking for advice, from anyone whom is willing to give it. Or feedback, if you think I am being too overly needy or demanding, because I also worry that I ask too much, in wanting consistent, longer, distraction-free conversations with people. I’m just not sure, at the moment.

Cheers.

Advertisements

About Nicole Evans

Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the “un” removed from that statement. She has five completed manuscripts: a trilogy about destined heroes that fail anyway, a science fiction standalone that pits the natural desire to love against the natural instinct to kill during the extinction of the human race and a new series about a writer who can't get published and gets the chance to live a life that all writers dream. She also has two scripts done. Currently, she is about to start writing the second of a nine book series while planning two more. (If you can tell, she really likes this whole writing thing.) Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games (which she believes is retribution for the characters’ she’s killed), wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works part-time as a supervisor in a library at the University of Kansas. View all posts by Nicole Evans

8 responses to “The Crave for Conversation

  • Leoma Retan

    Hi Nicole. I don’t know if this will help you or not but a while back I found a way to reach out to my husband when I was really, really upset with him but didn’t want the arguments, recriminations, bad feelings, etc. that usually come with conversations when I’m in that state. I go off by myself and pour my feelings into a poem that expresses how I’m feeling and send it only to him. The first time I did it he definitely got the message–without nearly the level of hurt that an argument would have caused.

    Best of luck in your search for someone who will provide the outlet you so clearly need.

    • inkstaind13

      Thank you, Lee! I am so glad that you found a way to communicate with your husband that works for both of you. While I’m not a poet in any regards, I still appreciate that you reached out and shared that. Perhaps I will continue to try and use my writing as a form of communication. 🙂

  • philcharlesr

    Could you offer an alternative to technology? My advice is play to your strengths. You’re a gamer, so see if you can gamify one night a week. Choose something like Jenga, something that doesn’t require a screen. Only one person’s occupied with the game at a time. Suggest putting phones aside and keeping the to off while the game’s in session. Without those distractions, hopefully conversation will follow naturally :).

  • Mae McDonnell

    I could have written this post. The way we address it in our family is by having set meal times – and the meals happen in the kitchen, where there is no TV. (If anyone brings a phone there, they have to suffer my wrath, which involves a lot of staring and saying, “Are you done with that so that we can enjoy our dinner?”)

    There are times for connection and there are times to tune out. And certainly, time to tune out is important too, particularly for us introverts. Having honest conversations about how to strike a balance that suits everyone is so important.

    • inkstaind13

      A couple of people have mentioned how close to home this has hit. And I totally agree, there are times where you just want to relax and shut everything out through watching TV or gaming or reading and that time is so vital. I think, for me, is just finding a way to balance that needed time with time that can also be used to connect, especially as conflicting work schedules erases the potential for awesome dinner time conversation. I’m glad you have that sacred time, though!! I had it has a kid and I absolutely loved it.

  • hsdeurloo

    Thank you for this post! It’s so true and so hard to deal with technology wrapping up our hands, heads, and hearts 24/7. I’d try the my house my rules route, if you don’t want to say it have a cute sign near the door, “phone free zone” and have little dish to leave it. When you’re out that’s harder esp with conflict avoidance. You can say it kindly. Hey, I made time to hang with you today, can the phone go in your puse for a bit? Have courage, your request is valid!

    • inkstaind13

      Thank you, Hannah!! Especially that last line: “Have courage, your request is valid!” So often, when I’m about to say something, I talk myself out of it mentality, thinking, “Stop it, you’re just being needy.” So hopefully next time, I’ll think of your faith in me and I’ll be able to say something!

Leave questions, comments or angry remarks below...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: