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Chester Debating Society
CHESTER DEBATING SOCIETY
THE POWER OF THE SPOKEN WORD
A personal view by
William Waldron QC
We live in the Internet age. Computers and laptops are part and parcel of life for so many now that you are the exception rather than the rule if you do not have at least one electronic device at home. It is almost impossible to walk down any city centre street without seeing scores of people paying greater attention to their mobile ‘phone than to the surroundings through which they are wandering. Indeed, useful though they are, mobile telephones have become somewhat of a plague – particularly when used by motorists! For the next generation, I suspect even today’s obsession with the latest gadgets will look measured.
Do not misunderstand me. I am a great believer in technology and the benefits brought about by development of the Internet cannot be underestimated. But as with most things in life, technology has its disadvantages. One of those disadvantages, now being researched quite extensively, is the effect that constant use of electronic devices has on social interaction. Take a simple example. I can almost guarantee that if you were to wander into any restaurant of your choosing this evening and sit down and observe your fellow diners, you would find individuals, couples and families with their heads lowered, conversing with their mobile ‘phone or tablet. From time to time, they might look up and smile and, when the food arrives, there might be some effort at conversation. However, very quickly, attention will refocus on the screen. There is good psychological evidence that the younger generation is, to some extent, losing the ability to converse ‘face-
For the better part of 15 years now, I have debated at the Chester Debating Society with my good friend Simon Berkson. The motions have been many and varied from the extremely serious to the light-
I am a great believer in the spoken word. I have spent most of my adult life engaging in public speaking of one form or another. I am absolutely sure that communication on this personal level is vital both for the well-
The purpose of these words is simple. On each occasion I have had the pleasure to debate with the Society I have said, with genuine passion, that I believe resolutely in the value of the spoken word and the aims of the Society. I encourage all to participate. Without doubt, even for those whose pleasure lies simply in listening to the views expressed by others, the experience is one that cannot help but leave you more energised, more tolerant and better informed and with a desire to spend more time in the company of others and less in company of microchips.
I very much look forward to seeing you at the Chester Debating Society at some time in the near future.
Will Waldron QC