07/31/2014 04:27 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Talking to Each Other: The Next Hot Thing


Photo: I.Rimanoczy

In a recent meeting my colleague Barri Litt, who teaches accounting and audit at Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship, commented about a sleepover party she participated in, invited by a friend who hosted a group of 11-year-old girls. When bedtime arrived, they asked the girls to put down their iPhones, iPads or the like that each of them were holding and fiddling with.

"What do you mean, will we actually talk to each other?" one of the girls asked. "Yes," my friend replied. "That is exactly what we had in mind." The girls looked surprised and intrigued, as the adults brought a set of cards with trigger questions. "If you were an animal, what animal would you be?" The girls were excited and an animated conversation started that lasted until almost 2 a.m.

Needless to say, the next day they reported to their parents how amazing that sleepover party had been! So different. The parents looked a bit suspicious and with disbelief: "Did they really put their devices away?" "Did my daughter agree to that?"

We have become so used to spending time and attention on what comes up on the screens of our devices, that we actually develop a "relationship" with our devices. We used to wake up thinking of the person we're in love with, and that often was also the last thing on our mind before falling asleep. Nowadays, the first thought when waking up is to check our phone for messages.

What is the relationship we have and what is the one we would like to have with the devices? What are we missing out while we look at the screen?

As students of my Sustainability Mindset class at Fordham University were reflecting on what they valued about the course experience, one person said:

I loved that we didn't sit as in other classes, at the tables, but that we sat in a circle during class, and that I had a chance to listen to the thoughts of my colleagues. In all these years, I never really talked much to anyone, and sitting in class I always just saw their neck. We run in and out of classes, rush from work to school and from there home. Having time to talk, that is not something common at school. I was amazed, surprised, and enjoyed so much discovering the diversity and richness of experience of my colleagues.

Well, yes, may be talking to each other is the next hot thing.