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We’ve gotten used to being connected all the time, but we have found ways around conversation — at least from conversation that is open-ended and spontaneous, in which we play with ideas and allow ourselves to be fully present and vulnerable.But it is in this type of conversation — where we learn to make eye contact, to become aware of another person’s posture and tone, to comfort one another and respectfully challenge one another — that empathy and intimacy flourish. Of course, we can find empathic conversations today, but the trend line is clear.It’s not only that we turn away from talking face to face to chat online.

She said, ‘I don’t have feelings about this.’ She couldn’t read the signals that the other student was hurt.”The dean went on: “Twelve-year-olds play on the playground like 8-year-olds.For the past five, I’ve had a special focus: What has happened to face-to-face conversation in a world where so many people say they would rather text than talk? So conversation proceeds, but with different people having their heads up at different times.The effect is what you would expect: Conversation is kept relatively light, on topics where people feel they can drop in and out.In one experiment, many student subjects opted to give themselves mild electric shocks rather than sit alone with their thoughts.People sometimes say to me that they can see how one might be disturbed when people turn to their phones when they are together.

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