The iPad Conversationalist

ballWhat is it to have a conversation? Don’t ask me, I sure as hell wouldn’t know. I live in a land populated by bulldozers but I am decidedly not a bulldozer.

It is common for babies, once they’ve reached the age of two, to go through an “I have a ball” phase. “I have a ball,” they say. They grasp a ball tightly in their little hand with their little kung fu grip and show the ball to everyone they meet. “I have a ball.” They can be rather monotonous.

It really boggles their little two-year-old brains so much that they have a ball. And they really love it if other people show interest in the ball, the one thing they’ll never ever share. “Ha! I have a ball!” At least until people show interest in something else which they’ll immediately covet and take for themselves. Then they’ll say, “I have this other thing.” Damn two-year olds.

I don’t want to put too fine a point on it so I’ll get on message and I’ll be brief: “I have an iPad!”

Unfortunately, a lot of these people may grow up, but their mental functioning and conversation skills remain at the functioning level of that two-year old child. You may know them best as bosses and coworkers. These are the people that have turned into bulldozers.

A bulldozer is a person who utterly dominates “conversation” (for lack of a better word) and destroys attempts on the part of others to participate … no matter what.

A conversation is a thing where ideas are exchanged in such a way that it involves the engagement and active participation of two or more people. The monologue oratory is the communication form exclusively employed by bulldozers and people like Adolf Hitler. (And perhaps not the only commonality.)

It is common to initiate a conversation attempt that consists of two parts. One example is an opening question, which, when followed by the appropriate response, becomes the launch point for information that you’d like to share.

Perhaps you want to say something about a movie you saw recently. You might try something like this:

“Say, have you ever seen the movie Forrest Gump?”

“No, but I saw The Princess Bride and it had a forest in it and that movie was fantastic! It’s this movie about blah blah blah yada yada yada …”

45 minutes later and two things are true: You know more about the Fire Swamp than you ever wanted to know and you want to blow your head off. What happened?

This conversational technique known as The Bulldozer segue. It’s not so much conversational as it is Scorched Earth. The bulldozer utterly failed to stop and consider that there just might be a reason why you asked the question. They naturally assumed that the entire point of your existence is to provide them with oratory fodder upon which they can demonstrate their greatness. It never occurs to them that there may have been something else behind your opening conversational gambit.

It matters not that you feel cut off and offended to the point that you no longer give a shit what is coming out of their face. It matters about as much to them as it does to that two-year-old with a ball.

Bulldozers, in spite of how many words spew forth from their mouths, are island-based conversationalists. They are the worst listeners and thus know less about you than even passing acquaintances. A dude you meet on the street who listens to a single sentence actually knows more about you than the bulldozers in your life. Yet in their brains they remember their interactions with you as great conversations. They think of you as a friend and, worse, they actually think they know you.

About the only thing worse than finding yourself in the gravitational pull of a bulldozer is being in a room full of bulldozers.

Another bulldozer technique is to ask questions. This is vicious trick to feign interest in another human being other than themselves. There are two possible reasons for it. One is to use a person as a prop which becomes a launch point for their next 45 minutes without taking a breath. The other reason, a bit more unlikely, is to extract a prompt, the germ of an idea upon which they can pontificate further. This is much like improv comedians asking the audience for a random subject. In either case, the victim is allowed only three words, at most, before their act of verbal expression is stomped out of existence.

All bulldozers require dirt clods to push around. To a conversational bulldozer that is another human being who exists only to serve as an audience and as the occasional prompt. It may go without saying, but to the dirt clod the conversation isn’t a whole hell of a lot of fun. So they tend to get bored. Or daydream. Or think about explosives.

Then I had my eureka moment. With the invention of the iPad came a paradigm shift in existence for dirt clods. At long last the dirt clod has something to do while the bulldozers flap their gums. Thus the dirt clod can serve out his function in style. Be in the same room, grunt occasionally to feign listening, and, when afforded the opportunity, pause the game and speak three words thus prompting another 45 minutes of windbaggin’. After the momentary diversion the iPad awaits to full up time.

It’s a classical win-win scenario.

In this way the lowly dirt clod is transformed into a beautiful, majestic iPad Conversationalist and everyone’s needs are met. And a new day dawns on the future of humanity…

2 responses

  1. My shoes are muddy.


    1. One of the dirt clods must have relieved himself in fright creating a sticky wicket. Be careful on the pitch.


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