Theodore Zeldin’s little book “Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives” starts out with an exciting statement. “I believe the twenty-first century needs a new ambition, to develop not talk but conversation, which does change people. Real conversation catches fire. It involves more than sending and receiving information.”
What follows in his book is not a recipe for how to say things in a slick manner or cope with impossible people but a risky proposition. “The kind of conversation I’m interested in,” he writes, “is one which you start with a willingness to emerge a slightly different person. It is always an experiment, whose results are never guaranteed. It involves risk. It’s an adventure in which we agree to cook the world together and make it taste less bitter.”
Here at Spectrum where we see our mission as “community through conversation” we have bought into Zeldin’s proposition. We have experienced and value highly the kind of conversation of which he writes. However, we have also experienced—as have you our readers with us—the hazards that come along with the risks. And frankly, the world has sometimes seemed more bitter rather than less, as people vented and took each other on in less than complimentary ways in the threads of conversation following some blog articles.
Frankly, we sometimes feel challenged in finding a balance for this important conversation that we share here. When people tell us that they have stopped reading because the tone of some commenter is anti-biblical, or the viciousness of some of the comments, we blanch.
So, we have come to you to discuss this important aspect of our conversation, particularly with those who read only and say nothing.
- How do the comments that follow a posted article affect your view of the article? Do they help you understand it better? Do they ever change your view of what the article originally said?
- What kind of comments are most engaging to you? Do you appreciate short statements that highlight significant points that have been made? Do you like reading the experiences of others in a similar situation?
- Do negative comments about a topic help you understand the issue in a more comprehensive way?
- What suggestions do you have to improve the conversation?
For those who have never done so, posting a comment is really very simple. Please take this opportunity to give it a try and let us know what you think. We ask our frequent commenters to let the new people go to the front of the line here and make their voices heard.
Conversation that is more than just talk, requires active participation. We enthusiastically invite you to join with us as we engage in this adventure of community through conversation.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2565