Sunday, January 22, 2012

To Tech or Not To Tech...

Recently, I had to wait about twenty minutes for a table at a restaurant (not an uncommon practice in Charlotte). We instituted the age old "there's a wait" practice by going to the bar for a round of drinks before the last remaining pager on Earth (the restaurant pager) buzzed.  As I looked around the bar, which was pretty packed, I noticed a group of single girls, a group of single guys (I'm no Patti Stanger, but Hello!), a family or two, etc. all huddled around the bar.  These people were different heights, races, and ages, but they had one thing in common: the iPhone.  I used to think that only rich people had the iPhone.  Then, I thought only young professionals had it.  Then, my friend Melissa joined the ranks.  This blog isn't about the popularity of the iPhone, though.  It's about people who don't have one: namely, my friends Tara, Mike, and I.  Are we the last early thirtysomethings without this nugget of technology?

As Tara, her husband Mike, and I chatted about movies, and even placed a bet after arguing about a scene in a TV show, my future flashed before me at a glance.  That sounds whimsical and cliche, but it's true.  I glanced up to wipe the frost off my glass, and realized that the hordes around us were not talking, laughing, or even watching the multiple TV screens surrounding the bar.  They were texting, checking Facebook, tweeting, and I imagine looking up some kind of senseless fact on Wikipedia.  No one seemed to say, "Found it!" and return to the conversation.  Everyone's eyes remained glued to the iPhone screen, ignoring their present company as they waited.

This raised the question in my head: Should I get an iPhone and join the masses, or be left behind?  Or should I look at the question entirely differently?  Maybe not having an iPhone was keeping the conversation going, and keeping good, old-fashioned human interaction a priority.  Everyone says that I am addicted to Facebook and Twitter, since I tend to log on at friends' houses to check my feed or retweet a funny comment.  I often look at this stuff as conversation starters.  My boyfriend is on a really tedious work schedule, and I rely on Facebook and Twitter to lend me newsworthy topics to entertain him at night on his 40 minute drive back home.  So, I'm not anti-technology by any means.  But do I need it in the palm of my hand?

When we returned back to my friend Tara's house, we settled the bet by pulling up the TV episode in question, and of course, Mike won, so now we have to go see a  'man' movie :(  But was it such a big deal to wait?  Is it ever that much of an inconvenience to wait for information?  Do we really need to know that Bob is engaged during dinner, or that Whitney broke a crown on her tooth eating a Baby Ruth (Dr. Suess for Facebook)?  

I think inevitably, I will get the iPhone 5 when it is released this spring/summer.  My argument about old-time communication is valid, though.  I know people have "cell phones on the counter" and "turn it off at dinner" rules.  But I'm talking about the bar wait right now.  That was "time to kill", and people were taking advantage.  Aren't those moments some of the few and fleeting empty ones that still exist today?  

Enough with the hypothetical questions, and the pros and cons of travel-size technology.  My point is this: In future scenarios of waiting for a table, I hope to still hear laughter from a bad joke shared to fill a silence or see a couple share a kiss and exchange "I Love You" when they're backed into a corner of the bar.  I don't think that kind of time is wasted.  As Carrie Bradshaw says in one of my favorite SATC episodes, "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda", "Life is what happens when you're waiting for a table."

No comments:

Post a Comment