By editorial board • 

Let’s hear it for conversation without a screen to intervene

Are you comfortable with remote device-assisted communication substituting for face-to-face conversation?

Think of all the aspects of a good conversation, including deeper focus, eye-to-eye contact and immediate reads of mood and reaction. Are we to let that slip away in favor of sound bites, divided attention and social media debate degenerating into cowardly and often anonymous personal attacks?

We figure most people favor the former. But what can we do to combat the growing social ills of digital communication overload? Well, for one, we can seize opportunities for engaging conversation locally.

Announcement of an upcoming TEDx conference, to be held in January 2019 at Linfield College, may represent the pinnacle of such opportunities.

It is utilizing the hip branding of the sensational series associated with TED Talks, which have adopted the motto, “Ideas are worth spreading.” That should help draw a sellout crowd to the event, taking the theme “Under the Microsope.”

But don’t forget there is a rich stew of fascinating talks, lectures and conversations bubbling all the time in our area.

Options include the McMinnville City Club’s monthly lunch lecture series, which features free exchange on an array of topics. Last month, Susan Saladoff gave a fascinating presentation based on the documentary “Hot Coffee,” which debunks common perceptions of the infamous case involving a woman spilling McDonald’s coffee on herself.

If you missed the lecture — and unfortunately, many did — we recommend you watch the documentary. 

The McMinnville Public Library has teamed with the nonprofit Oregon Humanities to present another public discussion series under the banner of The Conversation Project. Past installments have focused on such topics as faith in politics and science in environmental policy.

The Hillside Retirement Community hosts a public series each spring titled Adventures in Learning. On April 3, Kilong Ung will discuss his life in the Killing Fields of Cambodia and subsequent struggles as a refugee. And of course, Linfield College regularly hosts professors from near and far, sharing cutting-edge research.
These are just a few examples of places to engage in stimulating conversation.

It’s true that TED Talks would not have achieved such renown without digital promotion. And admittedly, the exchanges are viewed far more on a screen than in person. 

But there’s much more to discover when one is in the audience, engaged and actively listening. We hope more locals will take advantage of the wealth of knowledge offered at such events.


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