I’ve noticed in the last couple of months that people I talk to, either over the phone or in person, seem to have become much more loquacious, to the point where it seems that 90% or more of the conversational airtime is taken up by one person’s words. (To be sure, I’m often laconic.) Now I haven’t quantified this, though I could do so, at least over the phone with a stopwatch. But subjectively, it seems to me a real temporal change.
The first thing to determine is whether the subjective change is an objective change. To determine that, I would have to have timed participation in conversations over the last year or so, and compared the conversational “pie” before and after lockdown. And I don’t have that data.
In the absence of hard data, it’s possible that I’ve simply become more peevish and impatient, so that it only seems that people are monopolizing conversations more. And indeed, I think I have become more peevish, though I think many people have changed in this way as well.
But let’s assume it’s real: that the proportion of conversational time in a two-person chat has become more unequal since March. If that’s the case, why?
The only explanation I can imagine is that people who are more socially isolated have become more eager to talk, and that’s manifested in a higher degree of conversational dominance. Of course if two such chatty people meet, it could be a festival of interruptions and “talking over,” but I tend to become monosyllabic, and this is exacerbated when I am peevish. My philosophy has always been that in a conversation, you learn nothing by talking but only by listening.
At any rate, am I imagining this or have others noticed it?