The art of conversation is a tool, sharpened and nurtured by an individual through experiences and emotions throughout the course of one’s lifetime. Conversation is the two-way street where two individuals exchange ideas, opinions, information, based on the last exchanged idea in an immediate sense; as well as the conversation being shaped and expressed by the space and world which the conversation is taking place.
Conversation as a research method yields a raw yet casual result of data collection. This may contrast to a formal interview with all questions pre-planned; words scripted and rehearsed in front of a mirror (or in the shower). The conversation instead lies at the other end of the human interaction spectrum, being a free-form of analysis; catering for the natural path selection process by the unique ability to adapt or add new areas of discussion to the conversation.
Silence in a conversation is never good, really. It says that you’ve hit a dead end in the current topic, and a U-turn is imminent. Just like silence (or dead air) over the radio waves is never preferable.
“We never let that (dead air) happen. If it happens, one of us will make a funny noise or something and laugh at our stupidity, and the show keeps going.”
Alex “Hartzy” Hartz is a co-host on the radio show Indie Rock Café on the Central Coast radio station Coast FM 96.3, and a good friend of mine from way back high school days. When he’s not on the airwaves, you’ll find the wild Hartzy ripping it up on the drum kit in the band Petrodollars, or “‘scaping” it up on Runescape, a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) where many online friends interact in and out of the game, and across various other social media outlets.
“Not many people know this, but I’m actually in the same clan as Zez (Peter Zezima, a famous Runescape player). He’s a really cool guy. Absolutely insane, but.”
“It’s (Runescape) literally where I’ve met everyone … where I first met Alicia…”
We then turn the conversation towards Alicia – a gamer from Sweden a year Alex’s junior. Alex and Alicia have been online friends for five years now, a substantial amount of time where they each have seen not only their in-game characters develop and level up; but also, been in almost constant contact with each other through Runescape, as well as through Skype and Facebook.
“If she’s not online for more than a day I’ll probably start to worry. She’s always on (Runescape, Skype, connected to the internet), so it makes me be irrational and worry about her. Stupid feelings. Although she’s most likely sleeping.”
Then there’s also the time-zone thing. For Alex in Australia UTC+11 to talk to his Swedish friend living in UTC+2, there are some compromises to be made. One of them is his sleep cycle.
“Yeah, it’s (Alex’s sleep patterns) been f***ed lately.
He continues to tell me about his routine of waiting for Alicia to wake up at around midday Stockholm time, equating to 9pm Sydney time. This makes for an overall tiresome ordeal that Alex has learnt to live with, like so many others in trans-continental relationships.
“If we (the band) tour Europe, we definitely need to stop in Sweden. Thing is, I don’t know if I’ll come back.”
Now this was the game-changer.
So far we were talking about Alicia as an online presence; she would only exist on a computer screen or as her online avatar. Her physical location in the world only mattered because of time-zone difference. Now Alicia is a very real person. Her presence in Alex’s life means the willpower to travel vast distances to affirm their companionship in the flesh. It is as though no matter the distance or circumstances we find ourselves with love, that there will be no replacement for the physical confirmation of love with true face to face contact.