As somebody who actually believes that the pen is mightier (and so much more affordable) than the sword, I now find myself becoming increasingly concerned about our lack of conversational abilities.

You know, the kind where you are required to open your mouth and form real words, while hopefully looking your fellow human being in the eye.

I call it talking - but I'm old school. Novices and "vocal virgins", as I like to call them, seem to find this concept almost intimidating.

I used to think that "grunting" was a modern dialect reserved for moody, hormonal teens, I never dreamt that once perfectly literate adults would so readily adopt this caveman-like form of speech, aka devolving/regression/stupidity. (Please note this is honesty, not hate speech, though the two are commonly confused by the pig-ignorant.)


For starters it's written so technically cannot be called speech, ironically the very art we are rapidly losing, but that's another conversation - assuming you are capable of such things.

As society "gifts" us all the modern conveniences we could ever hope for, like self check-out, pay at the pump, online banking and ATMs, they are also severely limiting our need for authentic human interaction - and often when "forced" to have those interactions, we do everything in our power to keep them as brief and as minimal as possible.

As a fairly outgoing and gregarious individual, I'm always up for a chat but lately, when trying to engage a fellow homo sapien in the art of conversation I've been met with the "deer in headlights" look.

That panicked expression of shock and horror, one that forces them out of their comfort zone. You can see them mentally thinking, WTF.

Had it been a real deer, I would have expected the uncontrolled deposit of a mound of droppings or a puddle of pee.

If I'm lucky I get an unintelligible animal sound before they return their attention to the device that only requires finger movement ... but often I'm totally ignored as they're literally rendered dumb.

Then we have what I call the token remarks, where the individual will engage you with a common greeting/question, hoping you will reply in the same brief fashion.

CHECKOUT OPERATOR: Hi, how's your day going?


YOU: Fine thanks.

End of conversation.

I recall a recent experience when two of my Lifeforms had accompanied me on a grocery shop, it went something like this.

CHECKOUT OPERATOR: Hi, how's your day going?

ME: Pretty crap actually, but thanks for asking. (I could see I'd thrown her off her game so made light of it. She laughed. My boys were cringing and probably thinking "please, Mum, STFU!"

CHECKOUT OPERATOR: That's not the response I usually get.

ME: What ... an honest one? If you don't really want to know then don't ask. (All said in good humour, the mood, delivery and voice inflexion are lost in the written word, which is exactly my point.)

And so the banter continued. We all talked, we all laughed, even my sons joined in.

I recall having to ask my kids which way I had to insert my debit card.

It was a fairly big shop, her parting words, as she gave my receipt were "Well at least you can get a good discount on petrol."

ME: Which might be useful if I had a car!

Again, you had to be there, to appreciate the sarcasm of the humour.


It was a brief engagement, 5-6 minutes at most, four people not just vocally engaging but having a good time about a bad day.

Nothing was lost in translation as is so often the case with a keyboard.

All I know is this ... I'd rather have to ask for help with my debit card than require assistance with being able to communicate orally with a human being.

We've all but lost the need for the pen, please let's not hope that speech will be the next victim.

Voice recorded feedback is