What is the difference between these two pictures?
I suggest: Nothing
Marc (@ABitScattered) and I love our gadgets. At this very moment we are watching Invictus with our laptops on our laps, I’m blogging, he is reading the news. Often we share what we are reading back and forth. We are very much enjoying each other’s company.
A few weeks ago, I had completed a very long weekend, culminating in the confirmation of 15 of our youth. It was glorious and I was completely wired. Within a minute I would swing between hardly keeping my eyes open and then to babbling non-stop. We decided dinner at a pub and early to bed was the answer.
After I had babbled Marc’s ear off and had finally settled into tired, silent eating, Marc pulled out his phone, and I pulled out my phone as we ate. We exchanged a few words about what we were reading, but were, finally, quiet.
We were still reading our phones when the waitress came with the bill. As she was punching in the amount into her own device, she let out a giggle. “I’m sorry I laughed,” she says, “but watching you two with your phones reminds me how crazy things have gotten.” Then she started to tell us about her kids texting each other at the kitchen table, and how families and couples can not even enjoy a meal without unplugging.
I didn’t appreciate her judgement of our dinner. She assumed a distance in our meal that simply was not there. If we had been reading newspapers and not our phones, or watching the game on the pub television, I wonder if she would have had the same reaction.
Look at the pictures above. The one on the left is a very typical weekend brunch picture, people sitting together reading different sections of a newspaper. Each are engaged in their own section, some laughing, some serious. When we go to Sunset Grill on a weekend, we see this scene played out at tables all around us. In fact, that’s us. We are often reading paper together.
Now, look at the picture on the right. Are they ignoring each other, or being comfortable in each other’s company? In all my three years of married wisdom (ha!), I have learned that we do not need to speak to each other every moment we are in the same space. In fact, there is something wonderful about not having to speak at all. Perhaps in the moment after this picture was taken, he would turn to his wife and share what was so funny. Or she might share her concern about the email she is reading. That snapshot is a typical image of our table, and that’s what we would do.