The other day I was in an expensive restaurant eating dinner with a couple friends. We got to talking, settling in, removing our coats, and getting drinks from the waiter.
As soon as things calmed down, and I had time to survey my environment (because you know I love creeping on people), so I observed the people around me.
It was eerily quiet — not a lot of conversation was going on between the couples around me waiting for their dinner. In fact, I noticed one over-arching trend: people typing away on their iPhones. Either one person, or both.
Now, it wasn’t so much the fact that everyone had iPhones that bothered me. Nor was it that they had their phones out at the dinner table (even though that kills me inside) — it was the pensive mood it put me in regarding how our life changes (if at all) by not socializing over a meal.
That simple idea – instead of talking over dinner, killing time by messing around on the phone – really got to me.
And I wondered, am I witnessing the de-evolution of society?
iPhone, iPod, iSuck
What happened to the good old days when a man’s word meant something? What happened to the times when you could sit down and look a person in the face, see their body language, joke, flirt, tease and talk into the wee hours of the morning?
What happened to the era of civilization where having a conversation was considered a valuable skill? Or when knowing how to use a fork and knife properly were — expected — not something relegated to well-raised white kids or Europeans.
What happened to the very act of breaking bread? One of the oldest traditions of mankind is breaking bread and just sharing your story.
I can only hope that the Irony of technological communication [read: becoming more and more isolated despite being more connected than ever] will not become the norm in the future.
Because beyond all the gadgets and toys, people want to connect with people. The iPhone or any other toy may be a good way to do that, or it may be your achilles heel.
Connecting with a person does not mean talking to them easier. It means connecting with them.
Businessmen may be thinking about products and demand and technology and marketing and things going viral… and through the haze forget about people.
So if there’s any skill more valuable than using, and adapting to, technology, it’s the skill we’re going to see take a weird turn in the future – people skills.
And that brings me back to our dinner in an expensive restaurant.
I see more than six couples on their phones, while waiting for their food. Less than a couple sentences are spoken, most are small chat, few linger more than a couple sentences.
And I think to myself: it’s very telling of a couple’s future whether or not they can talk into the night – beyond the first date. In fact, it’s very telling of a relationship with any other human being whether or not you can do that.
The oldest skill man has – interacting with fellow man – is constantly being overshadowed by things we think are more valuable.
We always try to expedite the speed, or quality, or number of people we can interact with. But there is no such thing at something for nothing. Something has to go.
Or does it?
Either way, next time you’re sitting in the doctor’s office and decide to whip out your iPhone, instead of sitting in solitude in relaxing, know that it says something about your character.
Next time you’re in a restaurant and are waiting for food and decide to play Angry Birds instead of talk with those around you, understand that you are missing out on a real sweet part of life.
Maybe we’re witnessing the de-evolution of society. Or maybe I’m just wrong.
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