Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What's NY Got That I Ain't Got?

I took a day trip to NYC the other day and did a lot of walking, passing a lot of restaurants with outdoor seating. I must say that I was a bit shocked and pleasantly surprised to see people having conversations with those they were sharing their meals with. A while ago I wrote about cell phone use during meals and how it's more common than not to see people on their cell phones rather than spending time and talking with those they're at the table with. I've already threatened to take my parents' and husband's cell phones away during meals because they're constantly on Facebook or YouTube while we're at a restaurant (sometimes even at home!). There isn't a restaurant I've been to in my area where I haven't seen more than half of the diners on their cell phones. So, I was shocked when I didn't see anyone in NYC ignoring those they were eating with because their eyes were too attached to their cell phones. It's the City That Never Sleeps. The place where "slow" is not a word. If there were a place where I would have guessed people put their phones away during meals, it would be the south, not NYC. Don't get me wrong, I did see a lot of cell phone use in the city. Almost every single person I saw alone had either ear or head phones. Others were playing Candy Crush on the subway or yelling at the person they were talking to on the phone. Some were sending text messages or taking pictures of themselves in front of the Freedom Tower or the apartment featured in Sex in the City. But I don't recall seeing one person ditch his/her date for a cell phone. What a nice thing to see. People having conversations and laughing over meals. When I was younger, the dinner table was a place to share stories about how our day went and what we learned at school. Now, the dinner table has become just another place to watch Justin Beiber get hit in the head with a water bottle or text your girlfriend who just dropped you off five minutes ago. The art of conversation is slowly dying and becoming abbreviations like LOL and OMG; tiny pictures of yellow faces with various expressions. You don't even have to answer the question "What are you doing?" on Facebook anymore; you simply click on an icon and choose how you're feeling, what you're playing, where you are, what you're listening to. It's bad enough that people don't speak to each other anymore, but now we're not even writing. Sometimes I think cave men talked to each other more than we speak to our parents, our spouses, our children. I have lived in a small town in PA my whole life and rarely went any farther than neighboring NJ. My first visit to NYC was this past December when I took a bus trip with my family and friends before Christmas. I have been there twice and I enjoy going and seeing all there is to see, but at the end of the day, I want everything my tiny town has to offer: back roads bordered by corn fields, dirt roads in the middle of state game lands, corner stores I can walk to and grocery stores I can drive my own personal vehicle to--and shop for a week, rather than a day because otherwise I'd have too many things to carry back to my apartment and haul up the elevator to the 27th floor. But there is one thing I saw in The Big Apple that I wish would catch on like wild fire in my small town: the art of conversation and enjoying the company of those you love.

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