What is the current landscape of a conversation? How often do we have a conversation with someone, totally disengaged from everything else around us where our focus is on listening and absorbing what the other person has to say, then waiting for our opportunity to respond honestly and openly? Well I was listening, but my phone just pinged with a new notification, so I’ve picked it up, checked the message, but then continued to scroll through the rest of my social media accounts, all the while nodding as if I was still paying attention to the conversation, “Sorry what were you saying”?
Sound like anyone you know? I’ve definitely done this before and aside from anything else, its straight out rude yet unfortunately it is becoming the norm.
How about the person that is walking along with their head in their phone, probably with a shiny new pair of ear buds (yes, those ridiculous looking ear buds) and completely switched off to everything around them. You know, the one that expects you to get out of their way? It does my head in.
The point is, we have become so glued to our phones and so good at the age-old martial art of the keyboard warrior, that there has been a complete generational shift in the way that we communicate. Now, the irony is not lost on me, that as I sit here typing away, I’ve got Joe Rogan and Gary Vaynerchuk both in my ear talking about inventing a magic ‘self-awareness’ pill, I’ve got 10 tabs open on my lap top and my phone is right next to me, letting me know the second that anything happens that I should know about.
Its no surprise that as we have become hard wired into our devices, we have drifted apart from each other. The art of the conversation has deteriorated and so to has our mental health. That is what we are trying to change through TradeMutt. We are using an interesting and colourful product to ignite that face to face interaction where we can have a meaningful conversation about real stuff (crazy, I know).
Last week, we were invited by Nick and Lucas from Orange Sky Australia (OSA) to head out to their headquarters in Albion to check the place out. What the lads have established at such a young age and in such a short amount of time is incredible. OSA provide a platform for everyday Australians to connect through a regular laundry and shower service. The focus is on creating a safe, positive and supportive environment for people who are too often ignored or who feel disconnected from the community. What was of most interest to us about their organisation, is that although their impact is in bringing dignity to Australia’s homeless by providing them with clean clothes and showers, the real power is in the genuine and caring conversations that are had while the washing is being done. Every time an Orange Sky van pulls up, six orange chairs are set up where volunteers and friends can connect through genuine conversation and just shoot the breeze. Conversations vary from the weather to how cold it was last night and everything in between, with volunteers all the while remaining compassionate, empathetic and non-judgemental. This simple act helps to provide a person doing it tough with a positive connection back to their community.
The power of a simple conversation is where there is awesome synergy between Orange Sky and TradeMutt. Its in breaking down communication to the most basic of levels and simply talking with another person with the intent to listen without judging. Creating a safe space where a person feels comfortable enough to speak their mind and tell you how they are feeling. It is a practice that has been lost on people and we believe this is one of the major reasons why so many individuals find themselves in a state of loneliness and disconnect. This takes a huge toll on a person’s mental health. After all, don’t we all just want to feel like we are a valued human being that belongs? Instead we seem to compare our lives to everything we see on social media and think we are some sort of a failure because our lives don’t look anything like the “reality” that we see through our phone screens. Well the reality is that none of that is reality. The sooner that we can disconnect with the fake side of social media and re learn the art of conversation, the more connected we will become with each other and the better able we will be to open-up and talk about the more serious stuff when we need to. When we have someone or a few people that we can be completely real with, we suddenly don’t feel completely alone when things get hard and we go through struggles.
So, don’t ever forget the power of simple conversation. It’s an art that has taken a back seat to so many other forms of communication. It is an art that requires practice but is so powerful to an individual. It is a tried and tested and the beauty of it is it also comes with context. There is very little room for misinterpretation that often happens with text and most importantly it allows people to connect.
So, once you’ve finished reading this, close the computer or put the phone down and go out and connect with someone face to face. You don’t need a funky shirt to start the conversation, but it will help as an ice breaker 😉.
While we were out at Orange Sky, we bumped into our old mate Ernie Dingo who was with Tom Hearn from Bush TV.