Why I Hate Your Forehead

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Don't tweet during dinner


I wrote this a few years ago, but it’s still relevant.

Yesterday was supposed to be my rest day, farmer’s market shopping, a much needed workout at the gym, followed by movie with a girlfriend and dinner with her and my husband. The weather promised absolute splendor and delivered.

But, on the way back from the market, a little dog was walking a busy street with no collar and I had to stop and make sure he didn’t get hit by a car. The little pomeranian (whom I found out is named Bam Bam) came right to me, jumped in the car, and gobbled the piece of Italian sesame bread I was savoring from Provence at the farmer’s market. Provence showing up at a booth was one of the pleasant surprises.

Missing my favorite gym class, I set out to make found dog signs and realized my husband had my iphone. Since we have no home phone, I drive the hour it took to get back my phone so Bam Bam’s owner could call me.

Bam Bam starts breathing heavy so I run to the vet which is closed, but they open doors, check his heart, check for a chip, and check all records for a pomeranian. They didn’t know Bam Bam, but a big shout out for McKay’s Mill Animal Hospital.

It’s very frustrating to find a collarless dog, and I’ll bet you may have thought my PSA is about that, but it’s not.

No calls for hours, and of course, you know how this ends. While I am in the movies, the owner responds to the sign…. a full seven hours later, (even though the sign was right in front of his house). In the end, Bam Bam was reunited with his owner.

It’s important for you to know why I hate your forehead and it’s not about dogs!

Movie was good, dinner was worthy, except that’s not what I remember about the evening. As much as I talk about how food must be DELICIOUS, and the food is what matters, it’s not.

It’s first and foremost the people engaging each other at the table. But, instead of looking at my friend’s face and enjoying the meal and engaging in conversation, I got to stare at a forehead, watching texting and tweeting.

I don’t think anyone could know how disheartening that is to me, who cherishes the time with friends, sitting around good food and sharing an intimate conversation. It made me think she didn’t value our company.

I remember that the food tasted wonderful, but I remember more that our friend disconnected with us throughout the dinner. It triggered a recent memory of two special occasions where a dinner guest texted and twittered in my home throughout the dinner and evening. You see, I still call people “dinner guests” even if I know them for years, and I treat them like I would treat any new person entering my home. It’s always special to me to greet guests through the door. But, the texting/tweeting is a sign you are no longer present. Ouch!

This new wave of “wanting to be connected, while you are disconnecting is an emotional illness that has hit the culture.”

I have a master’s degree in clinical psychology and it is my opinion that showing your forehead to your friends may qualify for a diagnosis, perhaps a new personality disorder, demonstrated by the inability to engage past 60 seconds or 144 characters or whatever comes first.

I could be polite and call it “intimacy challenged” but I’m not a politically correct type, so I’ll call it “adult connection disorder.”

They are connected, but it’s the kind of connection that is like the fake tire you put on that is good for 30 miles until you can get to a gas station to buy a real tire that will take you for the long haul… a tire you can depend on

You cannot drive on that “fake tire” for too long. It’s not a real tire!

I’m not old fashioned or irrelevant.  That means I tweet. I am on facebook. I blog, I text. I write comments. I had an email account with AOL with a password of 4 characters. (Some of you know what that means, but who uses AOL anymore?) I have always been there on the cutting edge, because my husband is involved in cutting edge technology. HOWEVER, we both leave our phones home on Sundays when we go out for the day, shopping, eating, having fun. Did you just gasp?

We are just as happily married as Julia and Paul. We got that part of the movie and we didn’t get the Julie/Eric part. Maybe it’s because we have kept a perspective about what love requires. We engage each other, and we make that a priority. Some people wish they had husbands like their best girlfriend. Not me. I want a girlfriend like my husband. No one is busier than he is, yet he refuses to answer his phone and he has the smarts and discipline to not care to keep in touch with a few hundred people that, if given a chance to actually sit with him would disconnect to connect with someone else.

Real friendship, real love, real intimacy is better than good food, better than any amount of bandwidth, and better than fooling yourself into thinking you are relevant because you have 10,000 followers. If you are a foodie, think truffles. You can have a million mushrooms any day of the week. But if you get your hands on some truffles, how do you treat them. I wonder if someone was handing you a truffle as a gift, would you stop and text in the middle of the exchange and disconnect from that gift giver. I doubt it. You might text and tweet right afterwards (and you should) but you would probably cherish that exchange.

Our brain and heart can’t split into 10,000 or even 1000 or even 100 parts to be close to more than one or two handfuls of people at a time.

Our psyches are built to love “family” style, for love is a great responsibility and commitment. This is why at various times in our life different people are more important than others, and they share different seasons of our life with us. Right now I am strongly involved in the lives of two children, but one day they will be gone and I’ll be involved deeply with other people. I can be in a relationship of width on a surface level, but to have any relationship of depth, it must only be with a few at a time. This is why face book can be stressful if you try to run with the crowd every minute of the day.

If you twitter and text to other people during my very precious and rare moments out, it hurts. If you come to dinner (and a few friends have done this) after I have planned, cleaned, shopped and prepared special food for you, and you tweeted at my table and texted to other people across from my food, my wine, and my home made desserts, it crushes me. It hurts, not just my relationship with you, but it hurts us as a society and as a culture. It is the decline of the one thing in life that is so glorious. Texting at the table to strangers wrecks the celebration.

I have made my mind up to write this publicly and maybe you will recognize that you do this to me or you do this to your friends. Perhaps you are a victim of such impolite table manners and have not known what to do about it. I know what I’m going to do.

I will not eat again with people who can’t leave their phones in their pocket. I will not invite back people if I can’t collect their phones at the door. I mean it. I might end up only eating with my husband. I hope that’s not the case, but I can’t have the one thing in life that makes me so happy become perverted. I’m sorry I had to scold somebody out there, but I want to keep you who are my “in-person” friends in my life because I love you. But I am a disciplined type, and I refuse to watch your forehead. So who’s coming to dinner?

Please don’t text and drive. You can kill someone,
Please don’t text and eat. You could hurt someone.

Note: It was my strong opinions that earned me the nickname Spinach Tiger. I protect and cherish my blog and do not use it to vent or discuss hot topics, but this is something that has so moved me and is so crucial to my very essence as a creative human being, that I had no choice. This is NOT directed at teen-agers. It’s specifically to the over 30 crowd who have had the time to grow past “me.”

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One Comment

  1. You have spoken so well about my ultimate pet peeve Angela. I am sure that there are many more that agree with you. I would even go so far as to say that cell phones are the demise of culture as we know it when you sit in a room of friends and enjoy animated conversation and just their company. It devalues relationships. I work for a doctors office and am tired of those who are disgruntled when they call me on their cell phone and I haven’t understood a word they have said, or their phone dies or cuts out or reception is just garbled. I am tired of sitting at a table with friends while they tweet and take messages from other friends and text or take a call. I have sat in a room full of teen agers where there has been silence since they are all on their phones texting to find out what they will do that evening. I could go on and on and on and on and on………I do have a cell and use it for emergencies and at work. During off hours call me on my home home and I’d be happy to talk to you. If we are having dinner in a restaurant there should be a sign on every door “turn your cell phone off” just like at our doctors office…at least at one of the doctors offices I work for.

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