The Lost Art of Conversation

Over 100 years before Americans started spending their days hunched over smartphones, a Post author saw a similar habit developing.

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—From “The Lost Art of Conversation” by Vance Thompson, from the June 24, 1899, issue

Look about you in a railway train, in a street car or bus, you will observe that everyone is reading —men, women, and even the innocent little children. Silent, glum, their eyes glued to book or paper …

The very act of reading is unsocial. It is a kind of melancholy barbarism. We have such a precious deal of reading to do that conversation is out of the question. We have no time to talk. Conversation is decaying. We are reading ourselves into a silent race.


Read “The Lost Art of Conversation” from the June 24, 1899 issue of The Saturday Evening Post

This article appears in the September/October 2022 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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