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In an interview with MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle, Megan Garber asks what makes in-person conversation unique, compared to all the other ways we communicate these days:

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,” Turkle says. “It’s like dancing: slow, slow, quick-quick, slow.

You know? It seems boring, but all of a sudden there’s something, and whoa.”

Occasional dullness, in other words, is to be not only expected, but celebrated. Some of the best parts of conversation are, as Turkle puts it, “the boring bits.”

In software terms, they’re features rather than bugs. The logic of conversation as it plays out across the Internet, however—the into-the-ether observations and the never-ending feeds and the many, many selfies—is fundamentally different, favoring showmanship over exchange, flows over ebbs. The Internet is always on. And it’s always judging you, watching you, goading you. “That’s not conversation,” Turkle says.

Megan Garber, “Saving the Lost Art of Conversation: In a fast-paced digital age,” An MIT Psychologist Tries To Slow Us Down, The Atlantic.

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