On my recent journey home, just before I went to the airport, I watched a video about the impact cell phones have on our society. There was the fact that no one can memorize anything anymore or remember how to get somewhere or think about what they have to do today, but the fact that stuck with me was the social impact of laying your phone on the table when you sat down with another person. I had plenty of time to kill (delayed flight) so I wandered around the airport and people watched. Here is what I saw:

-One man about seventy, sitting and eating his lunch. No phone in sight.

-One pilot, eating a lunch he brought in a brown bag and a purchased soda. No phone in sight.

-A thirty-something woman with two sons, 10 and 6. Ten year old had an iPad and was watching a video, six year old had mother’s phone and was playing a game…while they ate pizza. Mom ate a salad and stared off into space. Nothing was said between the three for the whole time I observed.

-An extended family ordered their food and took it to a table. The tables only sat four, with fixed chairs. The two women and two teen age girls sat at the table, while the younger boy sat alone at a nearby table. One of the women was texting, the other was dialing. One of the teen girls stared off into space and never ate a thing. The other girl concentrated on her food and occasionally tried (unsuccessfully) to make conversation with the others. The boy alone played on his phone while he ate.

-Two thirty something women…one was sitting at a table for four and the other approached and asked if she could sit there (all other seats were full). Sure, said the first. Then the two got into a very animated discussion and neither ever pulled out a phone. They conversed, smiled, and laughed for a long time.

-I sat at the gate in a chair next to a teen boy. I was fussing with my baggage (getting out my Lymphediva sleeve!) and he started a conversation. We were having an enjoyable talk, flitting through a long list of topics, for about ten minutes, when his phone buzzed and he pulled it out. I disappeared (apparently) and he texted without giving my another word. We boarded in separate groups.

I chatted with the two folks in my row (they didn’t know each other.) Soon man-in-the-middle pulled out his phone to show us photos of his grandchildren.

It was an interesting experiment.