Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Phoning it in

I had a small spat with a girlfriend last week. She was upset about my lack of motivation to leave my cocoon of coziness and meet her in an alternate area of Manhattan. And rightfully so. I’m a total homebody and a bit of a downtown snob. I only go above 14th street for Elio’s and haircuts. But in all seriousness, I had been feeling in a funk and was uninspired to go to Jack’s, let alone Hell’s Kitchen. But alas, my friend had a point. Meeting in the middle is not only a metaphor for healthy relationship behavior; it’s literally the best-case scenario for friends who live on opposite poles of a city.

What’s not a good scenario? Schlepping from your home for some much needed quality time with your friend, only to find yourself sitting all by your lonesome for much of the meal, while your dining companion incessantly texts her other friends. And then of course you’re left with a couple of awkward options: take out your own cell phone and start trolling Twitter for the latest Alec Baldwin rant, or sit there, like a loser, chugging wine and trying not to spy too obviously on the conversations of fellow diners at close-by tables.

Since said incident, I’ve mustered up the cojones to kindly ask that my dates refrain from constant cell phone usage. Like many females, I cringe at thought of even necessary, mild confrontation. (I’ve warmed to non-stinky cheese. But I’ll never warm to even small-scale confrontation.)

I get it. Sometimes phones on dinner tables are a non-negotiable, i.e. for Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada and doctors on call. My attorney fiancĂ© is fond of saying “The law is a demanding mistress.”

But many times, scrolling text messages during dinner is not only rude, it defeats the purpose of dining with companions. Two friends sit together physically, but are worlds away mentally. It’s downright silly. What’s more precious than being in the present moment with close friends?

There’s a time and a place for everything. I too, of course, am susceptible to the technology lure. Especially when I want to tweet a clever restaurant sign, or even announce to the world HELLO PEOPLE I AM OUT PARTYING WITH MY HOMEGILRS! I want to shout from the proverbial mountaintop (aka the Facebook status) that I am in love with spending time with my besties. So I say: let’s take a moment. Maybe at the end of a meal. Just a brief moment. To visit cyberspace. But for the remainder of the hangout time, let’s put down our connected devices and be left to our own devices, to really connect.



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