It's midweek Wednesday and my half hearted rant on our high tech world continues. I was out to eat a few months back and noticed a typical American family of five sitting down to dinner at a family style restauant. Mom, Dad, two girls and a boy. The girls might have been friends, I don't know if they were sisters. Everything appeared as it should, at least as we've come to expect it should. Nothing was missing to the eye. Everyone was well dressed, appeared healthy and were prattling about whatever they had ordered from soup to spaghetti. Nothing looked out of place. Relying solely on my visual impression , you could have taken a picture of these people and mailed it to Norman Rockwell were he still alive. The family could have been big stars on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Then I noticed…. they were absolutely silent. Not a stitch of conversation.. zero, zilch, nada. The girls were looking downward with their fingers furiously texting away. Dear Old Dad was tumbing through something on his iPhone. Mom was sitting in silence. I'm not talking silent for 3 - 4 minutes, (which seems an acceptable amount of time if one is scarfing down a delicious dinner) but for about 15 minutes.. maybe more. I'm not uncomfortable with silence or long pauses in an otherwise healthy conversation, but these people were entirely, each, in their own orbit. They might as well have been anywhere else but together. They might have each had a lean cuisine on the sofa and not had to go out to dinner at all, least of all together. Maybe it's just me, but it seems a shame that verbal, audible conversation is on the wane. There is so much that can be related by way of inflection, and body language, not to mention eye contact. I wonder whatthe ultimate effect will be in 20 years as an entire generation increasingly communicates witout speaking. Ever seen those artists sketches of alien creatures without mouths ?
Maybe this is how it starts. Case in point - take a look here: