Friday night, the TV’s on in the background, and I’m wondering where to start.
I first came across your “Letters Project” via previous participant Robb Knight. At the time I was craving conversation and if letters back-and-forth are not conversation, what are they? That seems as good a place to start as any.
As a 50+ year old (mid-early-50’s lol), I’ve been exposed to many concepts. Some resonate strongly and immediately feel right because of their ability to explain my world experiences. The importance of conversations in our life is one of those.
Just now my attention has been taken by the Ben Robert-Smith story on TV. He’s Australia’s most decorated living war-veteran who has lost a defamation case against three newspapers for claims they made that he is a war criminal. The stories are all “He’s guilty! Strip him of his medals! Take him to criminal court!”. The last I agree with as it is the only way to get beyond allegations to evidence.
The media leaves no place for conversation - no place to explore - no place to learn - no place for grey nuance.
I assume the case was thrown out of court because the newspapers had sufficient justification to make the claims they did and so, it’s not defamation. That does not equate to criminal proof. I can’t be sure of that, because it’s not being reported anywhere. Just the result for everybody to lay judgement on.
I see the same in the workplace, in families, on-line. We are not taking the time to sit in conversation. In my training as an ontological coach, we were told conversation is a dance. How much conversation is not a dance but a toe-to-toe fist-fight? The closest it gets to a dance is the gang fight in West Side Story.
I’m confident in saying we’ve forgotten how to listen, but I also think there is a big time factor in there. We don’t leave ourselves time to ask questions, to sit quietly and think, to consider what we’ve heard, or to consider our reaction to it and what that may teach us about ourselves.
That’s the conversation I crave. That’s what I hope you and I can engage with over the coming weeks.
I’ve written enough. Time for me to listen.
Best regards, David
I am also craving conversations, having come to the same set of conclusions as a mid-late-30s year old.
There’s little room for nuance, and so often cries for nuance are made in bad faith. One of the most difficult things about online conversation and media narratives is that they’re so often, fundamentally dishonest. The questions being asked are about framing the debate, not curiosity. Introducing complexity is genuinely seized upon by bad actors to support ideas that are not at all a part of the goal of the initial speaker.
You can’t dance with someone who walks on the floor with the purpose of making you look bad. There has to be some agreement on the basics, and so often these days our dance partners aren’t even listening to the same music we are.
I don’t think individuals have forgotten how to listen. I think this is why in person conversation and face to face interactions are so different from online interactions, especially synchronous or near synchronous, short form, broadcasted “conversations”. 1 One of the reasons I like podcasts so much is that the human voice can generate a level of empathy and compassion for each other that is missing during online sniping. Folks I feel are abhorrent with views that cause my blood to boil become possible to hear from when they are speaking in their own voice in the room with people who disagree. There’s something about having to face other people impacted by your own argument that softens, expands, and explains to a different degree than the online world or even the written word that’s not built in conversation.
Op/Eds are not conversations, they’re screeds.
I enjoy the long form, asynchronous conversations that Letters has provided. It’s a different type of communication that feels like it was common and now, not so much.
Thanks for jumping in this month.
How often do we forget that a conversation in public has audiences besides the interlocutor? ↩︎