Conversation is talk on steroids.
Think about it. Claims that the newest exercise gadget will transform a 90 pound weakling into a gleaming body beautiful over-promise. But authentic conversation can add heft to one's social life and career, no matter how undeveloped your skills are at the start. It's a lot like building a muscle that, with practice, renders you able to carry on lively, provocative exchanges with the most formidable people you meet. And with daily exercise in active listening, one can get to be a pro in no time.
But try telling this to most teens who think it's not important to "speak well" because they do most of their "talking" on the internet. A complex set of dynamics are at work there, especially among teens who converse more on the web than any other way. A fascinating read on this is Frances Jacobson Harris' book I Found it on the Internet: Coming of Age Online. But make no mistake, web talk just doesn't measure up against the kind of face to face scintillating conversation I'm talking about here. I wish more kids would find working out at conversational language skills is worth the exercise. Do I sound like an old fogey?