I Can’t Wait For The Return of Face-to-Face Conversations

Tom Stevenson
https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1bp8HH_0YeHaqNe00Photo: Warren Wong/Unsplash

Ever since lockdown began in the UK, towards the end of March, I haven’t seen any of my friends in the flesh.

Social distancing dictates that we stay away from others, and the lockdown meant we could only leave our home for essential goods or to exercise.

This change wasn’t so much of an issue, to begin with. But the longer this has gone on, the more eager I have become to have face-to-face conversations again. One reason sticks out above all others:

Video calls.

Yes, Zoom and similar platforms have been a godsend for many people around the world. My friends and I have used the platform to host weekly quizzes and catch up with one another.

Without Zoom, lockdown would have been much more difficult, of that there is no doubt. Still, whenever I end the chat, I have a nagging sense of disappointment and relief.

I’ve now realized why I have these feelings; video calls are nowhere near as good as a face-to-face conversation. I’m sure most of you know this already, but the historical moment we are living through now has only hammered it home to me.

Video calls are just a bit naff. If this is what the future looks like, I want no part in it. The whole thing feels impersonal to me. Staring at someone through a screen reminds me of a dystopian Hollywood blockbuster!

This never used to me bother when I was able to meet up with people in person. When that option was rendered impossible due to the pandemic, this form of communication began to grate on me.

No matter how many times I chatted through the medium of video, I felt distant from whoever I was talking to each time. The conversation can stagnate, it’s hard to read when someone is finished speaking, and I left feeling drained.

Face-to-face conversations aren’t perfect, but they’re a hell of a lot better than the alternative. The reason? We’ve evolved to communicate this way. Two thousand years ago, video was a non-existent idea — if you wanted to talk to someone, you had to meet them in person.

These days, everyone is reachable almost all of the time. Especially so in the middle of a pandemic, the excuse about washing your hair doesn’t quite cut it anymore!

With this constant connectivity comes the ease of starting a conversation. You can reach anyone across the globe. It’s a fantastic way of catching up with friends from all around the world who you haven’t spoken to in ages.

The issue is when it’s used to substitute interactions with those closest to you. Meeting people in person takes effort; you have to organize a time and a place to eat, and then you have to get yourself sorted before you do.

You’re going out of your way to meet a friend, and so are they. It requires effort and commitment. A video call is much easier. You open the app, touch a few buttons and hey presto, your friend appears on your phone!

The effort to initiate the conversation is minimal. You can wake up, pick up your phone and call someone; it’s that easy. While this may sound great, I’m not so sure it is.

Convenience makes it easier for us to slack off. It’s easier to be distant on a video call because you are distant. If you did this in a face-to-face conversation, it would come across as anti-social.

While there has been plenty of talk about a technological revolution in the wake of the pandemic, I think the opposite will happen. I think more and more people will come to cherish human contact and not retreat behind a screen.

We’ve taken a peep through the looking glass, and what is staring back at us is not as enticing as we might have thought. The value of human interaction is that it’s intimate, personal, and enjoyable. Talking through Zoom can often feel like an exercise we’re being forced to do rather than one we’re doing out of joy.

Just the thought of meeting my friends again and going for a pint in the pub brings a smile across my face. For too long, we have taken the value of the face-to-face conversation for granted. Now that it has been taken away, its value is more evident than ever.

We’re better together. Sometimes, that means we have to communicate via video, but if we can meet up in person, it’s almost always better. Barely any memorable stories originate from a Zoom chat, they all come from the stuff that happened when we were with our friends in the flesh.

I can’t wait for face-to-face conversations again so I can see my friends, but most of all, so I can undertake an essential part of human life, socializing.

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