When I was growing up, I remember watching Full House. The show was so much fun to watch because it made me feel like I was in another world. The astonishingly good looks of Uncle Jesse and the gut-busting laughs Joey brought about in me made the show priceless in my 10-year-old mind. There was one thing that captivated me more than all the jokes, long hugs and family dinners – it was D.J.’s lip-shaped phone she would always use to have the best conversations with her friends. I would fantasize about this phone! I couldn’t wait to grow up and be 16 and talk with all of my friends! Better yet, I couldn’t wait to call my friends up on my lip phone and make plans to go bowling on a Friday night.
Do you want to know what I was doing when I finally turned 16 and had a phone? I’ll tell you: I laid in bed and sent streaks, text messages, like people’s posts all from the comfort of my own bed and didn’t say a word to anyone. And my phone didn’t have big juicy lips, and it wasn’t bright red; it was small, square and black. I could play any game, stalk my celebrity crush for that week and I could know what my friends ate for breakfast that morning if they posted it. But somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to call my friend and just talk to them and hear their voice instead of hiding behind silent words. This is not just my problem. It’s our generation’s problem.
I’m not trying to say that our generation is degenerate, self-centered or dumb. After all, we are the ones who are trying to save the planet, respecting and accepting all people and using our right to voice an opinion because if we don’t, who will? What I am trying to say is that we need to be better conversationalists. I will talk about how conversation can be a rather urgent matter, but first I want to talk about why talking to people can be just as much fun as sending them a meme and then replying with the ever – so meaningful letters “Lol.”
Now, I am a huge fan of sending memes. I freaking love those 10 seconds of joy I get from watching other people say stupid things about other stupid things. But, I will say that I get so much more joy out of them when I’m showing them to a friend in person. Yes, we may both be on our phones, but at least we’re looking together, and we’re interacting with one another. I get so tired of hearing people say that we will never learn how to become social if we keep our eyes on social media. Times are changing, and we need to learn how to adapt. If looking at social media is what you like to do, look at it with friends right next to you! Talk about what you see on your feed. I don’t see anything in the rulebook that says we can’t be sitting next to each other and engage in a conversation about something we both saw while looking at our phones. In fact, I don’t see a rulebook at all! I think we put too much pressure on what a conversation is supposed to look like. The most important thing is that we are conversing, who cares how we do it?
I have never been more alone than I am right now in college. Sometimes I don’t see my roommates all day, and I don’t really have anything to say to anyone in my classes, so I literally say maybe two words the entire day. This is depressing as all get out. When I have three assignments and two tests to study for, it helps me so much to talk it out with someone. And you may be thinking, “Kelly, you just said how sometimes you don’t talk to anyone all day. Do you talk to the voices in your head?” and you’re right, I did just say that. And this shows I have more than just the problem of having voices in my head (kidding… maybe), I have a problem of being too self – righteous to ask anyone to coffee.
To further explain, the root of the problem is not that there is no one to talk to, the problem is that we never ask anyone to talk. I am definitely included in this group. My mind immediately jumps to “well they’re not asking me but why should I ask them?” It seems desperate to do that, but as I have been reminded by some annoyingly brilliant people in my life (love you, Dad), they are probably thinking the same thing! It’s up to us to break the cycle of no one saying anything because we can’t swallow our pride. Having conversations is not a want but a need. There are people out there who are hurting, who need to talk to someone, who needs to know that they are cared for. Our generation is already great, but if we harness the power of conversation, we will be unstoppable.