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The Lost Art of Conversation?

Almost every day, we hear the phrase “it is a different world and things have changed, including children”. Many people are taking the view that the rushing tide of materialistic focus, along with vanishing values that build character, in an “almost anything goes” atmosphere, raises many questions about the value structure on our island.

Families are struggling to retain good values such as respect, honesty and a commitment to doing good, but beneath the surface, some feel it is a losing battle, as the tidal wave of cyberspace technology continues to engulf lifestyles worldwide in a way that is yet to be fully assessed.

Modern science continues to produce many benefits that enhance life in a number of areas, and that is a positive for the global community. There seems to be no end to the new ways of communication, which has made the world a smaller place with hardly a spot on Earth out of reach.

All of this technology has infiltrated what was once close family communication with what has become the lost art of face-to-face conversation. In fact, one could look almost anywhere these days and see someone in a trance-like state, punching buttons on a device as though they are directing brain surgery miles away. Young and old have been swept up in the habit with some people unable to resist texting even during a worship service.

What could very well be happening is that this new popular form of communication may be a sneaky form of electronic addiction with hidden negatives because, in the process, very often people become so obsessed with clicking and tapping that those near by are almost non-existent. People have actually walked into traffic and fallen over objects while engrossed in this practice.

We all know there is no turning back to the days when information on events was provided by the town crier. In other words, progress in technology, especially when it comes to communication, has created a more informed world, and that has allowed access to certain events that previously were kept in the shadows, and away from the eyes of the global society.

Many brave journalists have paid with their lives while using modern-day communication equipment to expose to the world the horrendous deeds carried out by evil regimes. That is a positive side to the use of modern communication systems. However, when family meals are reduced to clicks and tapping with such devices as though that, too, is a part of the meal, that great value of respectful face-to-face communication that was so common several decades ago starts to crack.

There are youngsters who text friends all day but are unable to hold a conversation with a parent for five minutes. That may not be the case with every family, but we would be in denial were we not to realise that some values are fading in the family structure as a result of the communication age.

Although there is much talk of Bermuda’s troubled economy and the need to create more jobs, which is essential for growth in any society, we could be taking our eyes off the ball when it comes to values that should never be allowed to crumble.

This is Heritage Month, and it seems appropriate to mention that most values, such as respect honesty and character-building, start in the home.

That is crucial because even with the best economic recovery, along with more jobs and improving our system of education, without good values from a solid family experience during the early years, the island community will not be as strong as it could be. The amount of dangerously negative material streaming through cyberspace will be a threat to the next generation unless they are better armed to detect what is good and what is bad.

When good values are pushed aside as outdated, society itself is weakened — and that leaves future generations at great risk from the unknown. The real challenge today is trying to keep good, solid values alive. The home is where it must start.

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