In a Word

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There’s plenty of chatter going on in the world. Unfortunately, most of it is unfriendly, argumentative and divisive.

“Shooting the breeze has taken on a whole new meaning,” says a communications expert. “These days people are using words as bullets, and the breeze isn’t necessarily the target.”

While talk industry insiders concede the point, the message has typically gone in one ear and out the other. That’s because business has been booming over the past few years.

But some analysts say the noise quotient is misleading, and companies could be headed toward a disquieting future. Their argument is based on recent studies, which indicate growth has come from strong demand in the categories of blather, drivel and gossip. Few people get together any more to simply yak.

“Quarreling is the current fad,” says one. “But this is a cyclical industry. What are these companies going to do when there’s no more profit in arguing?”

The Center for Civil Discourse, a coalition of independent verbosity conglomerates, is responding with proposed plans for an international confab on the world-wide decline in friendly discussion. The topic: Cashing in on casual conversation.

Whether the gabfest will ever become reality is far from certain. So far, the lack of interest has been deafening.

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