We were at the pub. Upon sitting down, they connected to the wifi and began checking Snapchat, Facebook and the whole lot.
I sat there watching them watch their phones.
I thought about the absurdity of being in the presence of one another and yet being so distant. Metaphors and literary devices of how to express that came to mind, but I discarded them and simply sat staring. They didn’t notice.
I hate to be the incessant nag on a group about phones and devices, though I often want to say something, so I decided to pull out my book.
I’m reading a collection of essays by David Foster Wallace at the moment, and the particular story about Midwest America and tennis has me oddly intrigued. His description of the wind, the geometric angles on the court and his athleticism somehow have scored my attention, so I continued on in my reading.
The first few lines are the ones you have to go back and reread because you are still thinking of something else while your eyes cross over the surface of the sentences. I was thinking that I’m the one that is going to look weird in this situation because my friends are on their phones and I’m reading a book. I’m the dork in this scenario. I’m the strange one that brings a book to a bar, and my friends, the ones that don’t even know I’m reading my book across the table from them, are the normal ones. It’s totally acceptable to be in the presence of others and be on your phone. But I suppose it looks quite antisocial to be the one reading a book in a booth. The waiter came with our drinks, and I stuck my bookmark back in its place.
I bought the book used off of Amazon, and when it arrived, the last reader had left a piece of paper in page 101. The paper was a small 3×2 inch blue flashcard with the suffix “-pnea” on one side, and “breathing” on the other.
I laminated it with packing tape, and I’m now using it as my bookmark.
I like it.
In the end, my friends didn’t realize I had been reading. They snapped a few more boomerang shots and sent it to cyber space, and I sat staring at words on paper about a place I know well.
I guess I could learn to enjoy life more if I wasn’t so set on getting ticked off every time someone is on their device. In the end, maybe the issue isn’t “this generation” and how we are always on our phones. Perhaps it’s how each of us chooses to engage at any given moment. When we know the people we are with value meaningful time and conversation, it might be wise of us to consider how we are coming across and what real-time, in-person messages we are sending to those in our immediacy. There’s also something to be said about how communication works in this day and age as well. Though it may not be connection with those in our immediate physical presence, someone is making a bid for connection via Instagram, Facebook or whatever other form of social media I’m lagging behind on. I’d get more out of life if I stopped being so judgmental about something I, myself, am not too great at executing in a social setting. For now, soaking in my “present” will be a priority whether or not others do the same or even notice.
But all of this is just a thought from the corner booth oddball.