Socialising which complements and counterbalances social media

June 12, 2012 |  by  |  Uncategorized

Conversare bubbles along at the Whitmore pub in the city of Adelaide on the last Monday of the month. The next event is on 25th June, 2012.

( I would add for readers outside of Australia and the UK that another term for this kind of establishment is ‘bar’).

See http://whitmorehotel.com and http://whitmorehotel.com/events/upcoming-events/

With participants continuing to report that they had lively and highly satisfying  experiencing. Here are two such testimonials:

“I recently had the pleasure of attending an evening of ‘conversare’. It was held at the Whitmore Hotel’, which was delightful in its own right, combined with the input of the Publican, Peter, created the perfect ambience.

I found the evening entertaining, the concept fulfilling and the professionalism of our host exemplar.

It was a very positive night – one I would have no hesitation to recommend.”
Jen Westwood

“I would like to thank you for all the care you put into Conversare. i think that it is just wonderful! I had a lovely night and appreciated the readiness of each person I met to “meet and greet”. i am sure this had much to do with the atmosphere you set…(and our great setting). I have also been reading your book ‘Time to Converse’…
i just love it.”
Kate Barrett-Kennard

And why not? <smile>

For there are likely two main reasons why people may consider these gatherings to be interesting and enjoyable:

. They are different from more usual kinds of socialising in that anyone is welcome to participate, in a public space, in an atmosphere of ‘whoever comes are the right people’.

In the case of the events now ongoing in Adelaide these are in a delightful place, warm and friendly so say the least. In which conversing with whoever happens to have their meal together happens naturally and easily, as does interacting with others present.

. They provide the opportunity to ask a different kind of question from the usual. For when engaging with a person who you don’t know over a meal the essence is to explore with each other, “Who are you?” How often are you presented with such a gift?

And to do this in a context in which it is quite OK and quite safe to do so, as everyone else is doing the same. By being a participant in conversation with someone who initially you may know little about you use this time together to come to see that you have much in common albeit you may have very different backgrounds and live different lives.

At a deeper level potential participants may resonate with this comment:

“We are all lonely for something we don’t know we’re lonely for. How else to explain the curious feeling that goes around, feeling like we’re missing somebody we’ve never even met? “
David Foster Wallace 

From his obituary notice  in Time Magazine of 29 Dec 2008:

David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) “One of the presiding literary lights of his generation, Wallace anatomized the problems of 21C existence in intelligent, achingly funny novels, stories and essays. His subject was the existential distance that separates people from one another – a distance he spent his life trying to bridge with words”.
(My emphasis).

If David’s comment does trigger such a ‘curious feeling’ and/or you have ‘uneasy’ feelings about ‘insubstantial Facebook connectivity’ have a look at:

 Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/8930/

“Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.”

and

Loneliness on the rise as our cities atomise
http://theconversation.edu.au/loneliness-on-the-rise-as-our-cities-atomise-6068

This recent report by the Grattan Institute in Melbourne entitled  Social Cities indicates that “A lack of face-to-face contact can put our health at risk.” And that “Unfortunately, there are worrying signs that isolation and loneliness are growing in Australia.”

Furthermore, that the very nature of urban design exacerbates the lack of opportunity for face to face social contact. For much of the design of dwellings, in urban and suburban settings (often with electronically controlled roller doors), means few means by which people ‘bump into’ others in the course of their everyday lives.

Social media undoubtedly have  a wonderful menu of practical uses. Yet there is increasing evidence that users would do well to engage in personal interactions too, with no little screens in front of their faces and no little plugs in their ears.

What could be a more natural and fun complement and counterbalance to these modern phenomena than having face-to-face conversations, in a public place, in the hands of a host who knows how co-create an ambience in which everyone present participates to their heart’s content?  A way of co-creating real sociability?

A way of bridging the existential distance that separates people from one another – there is no ‘them and us’ – through conversation?

What may emerge from having this kind of experience? Can you see applications of the process in other contexts?

Feel free to add a comment below this post about whether you ‘see’ value in the face-to-face ‘bonding’ which occurs in Conversare gatherings.

Here’s a clue:  In the very looking you could gain a glimpse of the Hope Diamond!  <smile>

Alan Stewart
Adelaide


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