Saturday, May 16, 2009

XS-ive Dissonance

Nothing to say, with every toy available to say it.

We live in the communications age, a time when technology offers us 24/7 access to news, instant messaging, and Twitter tweets to follow every thought or action people the world over have. And yet the newfound availability and access to communication tools has ironically made us unable to communicate with one another.

Case in point...last night I went to XS, a great restaurant across from the University of Baltimore to get some food after seeing a movie at the Charles Theatre and, unfortunately, it was Friday night techno DJ night. Amy and I couldn't find a table anywhere on any of XS' four levels except on the DJ level, right in the belly of the beat-thumping beast. So we had to shout to hear each other. That's cool, I thought, it's Friday night and young singles like to have loud music and big-screen TVs and lots of audio distractions to mask their lack of having anything to say when they are checking out the hotties of the opposite sex on offer. It's a basic rule of the Singles Meat Rack Scene (Look, Hook, and Book).

But right next to us was a young couple having dinner, obviously the hookup was a fait accompli of the past and they were "together" (at least physically). And for the entire duration of their meal they silently checked messages on their iPhones, oblivious to one another's presence. No eye contact, no conversation, no human factor whatsoever. It was like being at a Kraftwerk concert. Then the bill came, debit cards came out, and they got up, still fiddling with their iPhones.

The scene amazed me. It recalled that moment in Stanley Donen's 1967 film Two for the Road when Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney observe an elderly couple sitting in stony silence in a cafe and Audrey says, "How can two people sit across from one another and have nothing to say?" To which Finney responds, "They're married."

Today's tech-savvy youth seem to be married to their toys. And it's made them very dull company indeed.


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