Deconstructing and reinventing conversation
Like fire, conversations are fun, bring us together, and make food taste better.
Also like fire, conversations require 3 main components to exist. You can't have
a fire without air, fuel, and heat. Similarly, you can't have a conversation without
Presence, Language, and Objective.
In this essay, I will try to deconstruct conversation into its three major
components, and then add a couple of disruptors to see how conversation takes
place "out of time" and "out of place" using the internet.
Fuel - > Presence.
Presence is what a person brings to a conversation. Its everything from their
clothes, their sex, their height, their skills, ...view middle of the document...
e., all participants speak English or what
have you. Beyond this though are first the kinds of phrases, the word ordering,
and the way we respond to each other. Ticks like "uh huh" or "yeah", mutually
familiar "comfort" colloquialisms, iconoclastic icebreakers, and pop culture
references "D'oh" all make up different parts of a rich conversation.
What is an "iconoclastic icebreaker"? I like these kinds of terms, they are little
feelers people throw out to see if they are "OK" or "one of us", like a secret
handshake from a Masonic order they quickly advise the participants of as
yet unstated world views, belief systems, or insider-ness. Introducing an "F"
bomb casually then gauging the reaction, or "God willing", or "Damn that (insert
political party name here)" all help set ground rules and have always particularly
fascinated me. They can also be less "intense" and really exist to discover the
literary capability for the conversation - thus helping the participants level set
the proceeding activity. Again, IE, one could say "Chesterfield" to see if the
others are from a certain locale, some industry jargon, or simply a "big word" to
establish literary capability. These couldn't be characterized as "iconoclastic" but
the word is kind of fun, plus the two i's … like … alliteration. Eh?
Heat - > Objective
Id characterize this as purpose, or topic, but most conversations really have
objectives, because most participants are thinking "what is in it for me" when
engaging in a conversation. We tend to enter conversations with a subconscious
objective because we're simply confronted with the opportunity and have to
react to stimulus. But occasionally we set up conversation to achieve some
kind of objective. "To get to know each other better" is probably among the
most common, followed by "hoping to get laid" , then "getting a laugh". In a
teaching context, the objectives are usually specific and fairly spelled out. "How
to spell", "how to play guitar" , "how to lead others" etc. could be objectives in
a conversation between a teacher and student....