My ponderings over the last few weeks have led me to believe that the verbal conversation is dying. My fear is that that one day…in the not so distant future…all people will ever talk about is the weather or what they ate for lunch (even though it’s probably on Instagram before it even reaches the tummy) and maybe not even that.

I won’t deny the fact how much our lives have flourished with digital technology and social media: People have been able to connect with old friends and loved ones far more easily that before. Businesses are marketed in ways they never could have been before. Email alone has had an incredible impact on the way we communicate.

Of course technology has changed this dramatically. We are now hyper-connected, and because of this we can sometimes forget that regardless of the big data analysis that we can compute in real time, there is something about a personal connection that transcends it all. While some suggest the proliferation of social media has made us less social, I’m not sure that’s true. What I do think is we have become a little too reliant on it and in doing so have lost a very important skill.

While I agree that some people just can’t carry a conversation and there are some that are happy to sit by listen and contribute once in a while, there are many who thrive on conversations like me. Technology driven communication comes with its own limitations in my view as it gives you a lot of time to compose and put your tailor-made point of view across. Having a verbal conversation lends itself to being more open, honest and generally a more positive experience.

Long ago…yes it does seem like eons...our everyday interactions revolved around people and conversations - be it the newspaper man or the milk and vegetable vendors or the neighbours, to familiar faces in the park or even striking a conversation with a stranger or fellow passenger during an evening commute. The conversations were charming and there was a certain sense of connection and belongingness one felt with others. And why only the mundane, even occasions like a party or a get together meant a perfect place to unwind and ease into a comfortable chatter.

But now…the times we live in are all about screens and ‘capturing’ moments and actually not living it. We are now living in a time capsule with earplugs on that not only block any outside noise but also take you into a safety net that becomes your world or rather cocoon.

Conversations are good for the soul. It builds: There is momentum. Like a weave, it knits together. It explores: It asks you to consider something differently. You ask questions and give answers with your words and your body. It moves: You feel something and it’s a story if repeated would intrigue others. Good conversation is sensitive to a variety of perspectives.

For most of human history, face-to-face communication was the core of our interaction. But not today. We text, we email, we blog, we friend each other on social networks. In the new age of electronic media, family and friends converse less than ever. As a result, we miss out on one of life’s singular pleasures: a relaxed, civilized exchange of views.

Conversation offers infinite possibilities. It is great for polishing thoughts and generating new ones and forging friendships. The ultimate bond of all personal relationships – whether in relationships, friendships or even work - is conversation.

Yet two opposing attitudes pull us away from it. The first is the mistaken belief that it is unnecessary. Why bother making the call or the visit when you can fire off an email? Unfortunately, text has difficulty conveying tone – the most important aspect of any communication. As well, think how much is conveyed with a smile, a glance, a wink, an eye roll or an arched eyebrow.

You really can’t compare it with can you?

The opposite attitude is that conversation is too much work. So we don’t really try. Look around the typical home today and you see not faces but the backs of heads. As we stare blankly into our electronic screens, the art of personal interaction is dying.

There is a widespread misconception that the best conversationalists are the smoothest talkers. Not so. (Indeed, glib talk generally comes off as phony or insincere.) Conversation is not meant to be a performance art or a competition, but an opportunity for mutual appreciation. And the best conversationalists are not the best talkers. They are the best listeners.

Good conversation is about drawing out the other, not delivering a monologue or a position statement. The truth is we are seldom better than our conversation. What you choose to talk about – and how you choose to say it – lays you bare. Every time you open your mouth, your mind parades alongside your words. That doesn’t mean your conversation needs to be sparkling and original. Nor does it need to have a purpose or a point. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The best conversations ramble. They have no pre-destination. It is all about the rhythm and flow. It connects us to one another, forges friendships, increases social esteem, raises our mood, generates goodwill, enhances our information and completes our education. And while prices rise and time shrinks, it is a luxury that remains free to us all.

Conversations, as they tend to play out in person, are messy—full of pauses and interruptions and topic changes and assorted awkwardness. But the messiness is what allows for true exchange. It gives participants the time—and, just as important, the permission—to think and react and glean insights. You can’t always tell, in a conversation, when the interesting bit is going to come. Occasional dullness, in other words, is to be not only expected, but celebrated. Some of the best parts of conversation are the boring bits.

The exchange of news across the internet which is always judging you, watching you, goading you is definitely not conversation. At least one generation has grown up with phone-toting parents who are emotionally absent - at the playground, over the dinner table, anywhere and everywhere distracted by their online lives.

You could be in any restaurant any night of the week and see dozens of tables sitting in silence because everyone there is playing with their phones. The art of good old fashion conversation is now simply lost on most folk as they'd rather be texting, surfing the net or be interacting with others online via social media sites rather than with the people they are sitting with.

What we need to perhaps understand is not to reject the idea of development but embrace it in a manner that the realities aren’t blurred behind the digital screens. Get on to a metro or local train and believe you me, it will be an eye opener.

What caught my attention one fine day in the ladies compartment was that everyone — students, executives, housewives, even small children accompanying their mothers sat with earpieces on, plugged into their own world of music and private thoughts, consciously avoiding eye contact with anyone, lest a need should arise for small talk. Or worse, a conversation throughout the journey.

We all live in a 'plugged-in' world where communication is child's play. But one of the biggest casualties of this connected world has been the art of conversation. We simply don't have the patience to talk anymore. Or even listen to others. Conversation is a formality these days. Even when friends meet and talk, their eyes are glued to their phones. We live in a self-absorbed world. We love talking, arguing, debating in our own heads. The moment it becomes real, we lose control. True face-to-face conversation is something that is quickly becoming a lost art and we wonder if future generations will even engage in real conversations at all. And yet, according to many experts face-to-fact conversation are critically important to our well-being. Conversations are also important for our children.

Omnipresent and all-pervasive, mobile phones have hijacked our lives. And this is not just when we are awake. The blinking red light at night indicating a new message is creating sleep and mood disorders for many. Walk into an office, colleagues are so busy with their machines that few have the time to look up and wish a simple good morning. It's as if people are concerned about appearing too nice or too free! If you have a new joinee in the office, beyond a brief hello, you don't see anyone initiating general chitchat to ease the person into his/her new workplace. Surely, it is just basic manners (and social etiquette) to make a person feel welcome. The funny thing is that if you take the initiative and start making conversation, most people are nice and friendly. I wonder why they are so reluctant initially.

Are we losing our basic social skills and the art of conversation? It is a pity since conversations play many important roles. They help us in forming relationships, in deepening bonds and in letting others know that they are genuinely cared for. Mobile and social media while at one level has helped people in distant places stay connected, it has also enabled others to escape and avoid at will.