Conversations in the physical world

Written by Lionir

Recently, I met up with someone for the first time since well, the start of lockdown in March 2020. It made me realize certain things about myself and how I interact with people online versus how I interact with people in person. It was a lovely day so I hope to convey some of that.

Frites, gravy and cheese in a plate, commonly called a poutine.
Poutine from La Banquise.

We didn't really do a whole lot, we just laid down together, talked, appreciated the weather and laughed. We ate poutine, my favourite food. I always try to get some when I go out. It doesn't sound like a whole lot but, to me, it meant a lot. I'm not entirely sure if this is because of the lockdown or just how I prefer to connect with people.

Something I noticed in the days afterwards is that being silent was not a problem. It just felt right, there was no stress to keep the conversation going, there was no awkwardness, we were just there. I'm not sure why but I have two theories.

One is that physical contact allows for some understanding that we are still paying attention. This reduces stress because there's less worrying and in return helps to avoid awkwardness. In other words, being able to touch the person allows the monkey brain inside us to relax. Worth noting that this is likely dependent on people because well, some people don't like being touched obviously.

The other theory is that simply being able to enjoy the same environment together allows for people to focus on that rather than being forced tofind a connection to share. I find that most online conversations are about what people are doing and so there's usually a disconnect between what the people in a conversation are thinking. I think this results in more conversations being led by one person or the other about whatever it is they're doing and reduces conversations about ideas.

Either way, it felt nice.

Somewhat related is that I forgot how much I liked physical contact. It feels reassuring, intimate and just comfortable in a way that nothing really else does. The feeling of soft skin, the warmth of a person against my body, the pressure of someone giving me a hug. I really missed that.

Oh yeah, I feel that interrupting someone by accident happens much less often so the conversations can meld together better, it's just one thing less to worry about, there's no awkward moment trying to decide who talks and there's no feeling bad with that choice.

It was a really good day. I hope I can get more of them. My heart kinda sank when we left.