Sitting here in the neighborhood coffee shop, I see all these people being “social.” But there’s never any interaction. We’re attached to our phones and tablets, talking and texting, but never having a traditional conversation. What happened to the days when a guy would ask a girl out for coffee?
It’s become like a game to me. I watch from my usual corner booth as droves of people stand in line, waiting to be served. There’s no friendly conversation. There’s no niceties.
It’s all about the latest email or text from that one friend. I feel like places like Starbucks have ruined what the coffee shop once used to be–a place to enjoy a good book or good conversation.
Now, it’s a race to a meeting, or a conference all to another country.
And even though I wouldn’t be caught drinking coffee, I love to sip on my tea, soaking up the next great American novel, and watching those around me ignore the world around them. There’s days where I want to just sit down at someone else’s table and strike up some small talk. Aside from the fact that I’d be too embarrassed to go through with it, the reaction I bet would be less than enthusiastic.
But every now and then some real conversation is good for everyone. I’ve given up on carrying around my phone with me. What’s the point? I don’t care about the latest fashion trends. I don’t have some fancy job where I need to be on-call 24/7. The life of a writer. Simplistic. That’s all I need.
This is what history is to me: a conversation through the ages. We’re told of this culture, this war, this plague. We read about the great heroes and villains of centuries past. But what of today’s history? What will be written in future history books? Will it be about the age of the text message? The day when language and speech was no longer relevant?
This is what I know. If I’m going to be writing the future, it will be more than just a simple summary of the way technology changed the world. It will be a great speech recorded for those to listen to, to understand and comprehend on a deeper level. It will be an oral tradition, something that we’ve taken for granted as the centuries have gone by. The time of Shakespeare and the other great playwrights had a good thing going.
And it’s because of this tradition that I feel I need to step out of my comfort zone, out of my corner table.
I see the same woman sitting in the table across from me. Every day around lunch, she comes in, orders a jasmine green tea, and cracks open a Jane Austen novel. A woman after my own heart. If ever I could join a stranger, she’d be it. She has such a soft expression on her face, a light upturn to her lips, a warmth in her eyes. And the best part? No phone in sight.
Wish me luck.