Do we Cubans talk less?

Do we Cubans talk less?
Fecha de publicación: 
20 March 2023
Imagen principal: 

The answer to the question of whether we Cubans talk less cannot be categorical. So far, it has been impossible to locate online any research that addresses the subject from the present.

But since participant observation is a valid method, even without the rigor of a full-fledged investigation, looking and asking very different Cubans here and there, opinions seem to agree that we talk less.

“There is no time mi’ja. We are usually in a line. Or asking where can we find a product and asking about the price, replied 76-year-old María de Jesús from Havana, retired from Domestic Commerce.

It seems that the time when free time was dedicated to chatting with family, friends or neighbors, is fading. After-dinner conversations, or chatting after watching a movie with the family... both are being left behind.

Of course, conversing is not exactly speaking. We Cubans continue to be very talkative, any public space confirms it, including hospital emergency rooms and even funeral homes.

But exchanging useful information is not exactly conversing. Telling to the relative that it is necessary to fix such a thing, look for that other thing, solve others... it is not very similar to the usual conversation, the one in which we talk about feelings, memories, aspirations, all that scaffolding, often mysterious, that we difference from other living beings.

It is true that the pandemic, escorted by fears and face masks, seemed to play its role in silencing conversations. People did not speak because they had nothing new to tell after days of confinement, or because they did not want to appear vulnerable by sharing their fears.

And another “pandemic”, the one with a longer history, conspires the same and perhaps worse against conversations: social networks.

Although on the Island Internet access is not as easy as in other latitudes, you can still find people, especially young people, immersed in their respective cellphones without noticing the life surrounding them.

And sometimes that life is accompanied by a horn blast and the insult of a driver who shouts to warn him of what he was eating when crossing the street without paying attention to the traffic light; others, it is the couple who is right next to each other saying good bye via WhatsApp, and both exchange emoticons with lots of kisses.

Talking is not a small thing

It might seem to some that talking is a matter for grandmothers in their armchairs, suspended in the great bubble of their words, far from the rush of this world where there are already countries where friends are literally hired to try to mitigate an unfathomable loneliness, whose remedy will not be found in hugs or rented dialogues.

It happens that in times of social networks, video calls, voice messages, stickers and emoticons, humans seem to feel more and more alone. Ask the users of the Alquifriend platform, where tens of thousands offer themselves as friends and many others seek company, and for the record that it is not a dating site, to find a partner or agree on sexual encounters.

In addition to that website you can find ads such as “23 easy ways to get paid to talk to lonely people” or “Get paid to be a virtual friend online in 2023 [up to $100 / hour]”, while the company Japanese Family Romance also offers for rent friends and family of the company. And these are just a few random examples.

However, conversation as one of the many forms of communication is so important that it should never be considered a secondary issuer: a "let's talk later" that never comes.

Conversing is so relevant that it is thus indicated from the very etymological definition of the word that has its origin in the Latin word 'conversāre', which means "to go around in company". But those laps did not refer to walking in a circle and accompanied, but referred to turning ideas around during a chat between people who accompanied each other.

It is no coincidence that Plato wrote all of his works in the form of dialogues, nor is Socrates and Aristotle evoked talking about transcendental issues of existence while walking alongside his disciples.

It is the conversation that makes it possible to communicate emotions and feelings, make friends, find a partner, strengthen family ties, demonstrate our abilities and aptitudes, work as a team, and many other benefits, among which the development of the language and encouragement to learn.

Conversing can also be understood as an exercise in respect for others and for oneself because in the speaking-listening pairing it is implicit to assimilate points of view different from one's own and thus contribute to personal growth and that of the interlocutor. Not infrequently, dialogue is a way to recognize differences and get to know oneself better.

A seemingly simple conversation can drive the transformation of the interlocutor; not for nothing Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, stated that "Modern science has not yet produced a calming medicine as effective as a few kind words." Also a conversation can generate changes even in the future of a nation.

Talking also means listening

When conversing, we also resolve conflicts... and we also create them, but that's how it happens sometimes, especially because some important rules are not respected during the dialogue:

-Listen carefully to what the other says, because it means respecting him and what he says, even if there is no coincidence in points of view.

-Showing full attention when the interlocutor speaks also guarantees that we are treated in the same way when we are speaking.

-Try to achieve empathy in the conversation, so that it is pleasant, meaningful and useful.

-Remaining attentive to the emotions of the interlocutors, and of oneself, contributes to the good flow of the conversation

- Understanding the potential that conversation entails also means finding in it a way to make others feel good

-Do not miss the opportunity to remain silent instead of saying something improper or offensive.

-Understand that the sense and meaning of what is said in the conversation depends above all on the one who listens, not on the one who speaks.

-As each word that makes up the dialogue has a load of meaning beyond its literal meaning, it would always be necessary to weigh the intention, tone and volume of what is said.

-Take care of extra verbal communication, which contributes or subtracts a lot from the conversation, from the body attitude, the direction of the gaze, the facial expressions and the gesticulation with which the saying is accompanied.

And yes, Cubans have traditionally been good conversationalists, also storytellers, loquacious, extroverted... perhaps now we talk less, but we will not let the art of conversation go to waste because it is part of who we are.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.