Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Lost Art of "Goodbye"

I've always been baffled when watching movies when the actor ends his/her phone conversation without the word "goodbye" or any variation of. The conspicuous absence of a formality in all these phone conversations bothered me a great deal, until that is, I discovered that I too was curtailing my conversations.

It began with business conversations. I allowed for enough information to pass between me and the other conversationalist to sufficiently cover the appropriate subject matter and then ended with a click of the receiver (or a flip of my cell phone). The appropriate compliments remained--"have a good day," "talk to you soon," etc.--but the norm finale was missing. I soon found that this reduction had found it's way into my personal conversations. I do think that I usually still say goodbye to my mother, but I find that more often than not I leave off.

What does this do to the other person? Are they offended? Do they even notice? Has "goodbye" become a triviality for them as well? The land line at work I cannot hang up as quickly as my cell phone. This occasionally means that I hear the other person's "goodbye" as my own receiver is heading to the cradle. At that point there is no stopping the momentum. I must continue in the downward movement, but it does leave me with an awkward moment withing myself wondering if my lack of farewell was rude and offended the other person.

Then there is the larger question of what this truncation means. Does the absence of a single word really save any significant amount of time. I suppose if the word takes about 1/2 a second to say and I hold about 20 conversations a day, then I gain 10 seconds each day. Obviously not a real time-saver. Is it a lack of consideration for my fellow human beings? Possibly. Possibly I grow calloused to the formality of human etiquette. Or maybe there is no meaning at all to it.

I cannot say that I have any great desire to pick up the habit again. But yet I do wonder, am I loosing something that makes me fundamentally human--a respect for other humans, an acquiescence to the humanity of others. Is the lost art of "goodbye" the tipping point, the outward expression of a much deeper change in myself and in our society?

I truly hope not.


kristi said...

I don't really like the word goodbye. I think it is too formal. I also think of yelling the word goodbye and slaming doors - not sure why. I think "talk to you soon" or "thanks for calling" is so much more personal

Amanda Peterson said...

I am not actually a fan of the formal "goodbye" either, but often there is not even a "later," "bye," or "talk to you soon."

Jessica Bolt said...

It was good to see you/talk to you/hug you this weekend. I'll have to make more of an effort at keeping in touch, then maybe the emails won't be so long. :)