Turn the TV off. Please.
I love getting to know people. I love conversation. I have been involved with couchsurfing for the last four years and I have visited many friends in their homes. Couchsurfers tend to be pretty good at conversation but there are exceptions. In those possibly awkward, getting-to-know-you conversations I have found that the single biggest conversation killer is the box in the corner.
The situation has been repeated far too often. I’m sitting on your couch in your home. You offered me a drink. We chatted. You seem nice. I’d like to know more about you. I’d like to talk. I’d like to listen and hear you but the TV is on. I’m watching the TV. The news is on or a movie. I’m watching that. You’re watching it. Perhaps we exchange a few brief and unsatisfying comments on the state of the world. We’re not talking. I’m bored.
Too often it seems to me that people don’t know what it’s like to be at home in silence or with simple music. There seems to be a sense that given the choice, everyone would rather turn the television on and talk about that than have a genuine conversation. Perhaps there is the fear of being seen, of being heard, of intimacy.
Here is my advice. When hosting someone in your home, talking to your partner, or listening to yourself, please turn down the distractions. Give your attention. Look at me, not the box. Tell me what you’re thinking about. Ask me questions. Be alive to curiosity. Share your soul. Listen.
Turn the TV off.