What ever happened to conversation?

Just as I figured out how to stop myself from getting tagged in all those embarrassing photos in Lan Kwai Fong at 3am on a Tuesday night, Google comes along and throws a spanner in the works and tells me I need to get my head around yet another social network, Google+.

Well thanks, Google. As if all this isn’t confusing enough.

A case in point: A couple of weekends ago I was organising dinner with friends on a Saturday night, a pretty simple task involving about 10 people, until technology got in the way. The conversations started out well, but soon fragmented into a stream of pings, notifications, beeps and annoying buzzes.

First, I received an SMS asking if dinner was on. Easy. Next, my girlfriend starts to message me on WhatsApp asking what time we have to leave, until I get sidetracked by Viber about the venue address. I start to reply, but get pinged a voice message on TalkBox (damn, I forgot to turn off the notification), then out of the blue my brother starts chatting to me on Gmail about our holiday next month. All this while I’m trying to watch a free movie on the QQLive application on my iPad2.

I don’t know if there were “good old days” for organising a group of people for dinner, but what struck me about this situation was not one phone call was involved in the whole process and every application we used before and during dinner (Foursquare and Facebook Places), are freely available to smartphone users – or anyone with a decent phone.

So before I dive into Google+, let me just take this opportunity to thank the good people at Google, Facebook, Justin Timberlake (hello MySpace), Viber, TalkBox, Skype, WeChat, WhatsApp and LINE for simplifying the art of conversation and connecting us in ways we might never have imagined.