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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Cell Phone Fork

Uploaded: Jun 3, 2014

Seems like everyone's on a mealtime date these days?with their cell phone.

I was eating lunch last week at Whole Foods Noe Valley (San Francisco). A lovely sunny day brought many eaters outside. There were white stone tables in front of the store, but scarce and scanty meant strangers crammed around munching kale salad and hot bar. We made quite a community table.

Problem was, there was no community.

People came, people left, and all thru my salad bar selection, no one looked up with a hi, a smile, or just a nod. We were practically touching shoulders, but nobody acknowledged the person sitting next to them. Instead, a continuous solo dance played on that went something like this:

Fork to mouth, fork to table, chew, pick up cell phone, chew, swallow quickly, put down cell, pick up fork, put in mouth, fork down, chew, pick up cell?.and on and on and on.

The table kept rhythmic pace; it was chew on cue. Everyone in beat; strangely connected, silent and detached all at the same time. The dance became more interesting than the lunch, so I pretended to eat while discreetly counting the average seconds/chews between the bites of my tablemates.*

Life as a social science. Do you marvel at how technology has made it ok to sit super close to another human being, yet feel no need to acknowledge their presence?

But hey, this is Silicon Valley ? land of invention and efficiency. If you can't beat em' ? eat em', right? Forget phone to fork. It's a time sink, and you run the risk of bumping the person next to you and actually having to engage.

Ladies and gentlemen?.never put down your cell phone again!


Cell Phone Fork!

Welcome to the future.

Smarty Pants Guys in Mountain View ?now which one of you big boys is free ta' help me build the prototype?

*Average chews 7-10 per bite. Macrobiotics teaches 30 chews per bite so SLOW DOWN everybody and chew your food well. People will think you are smiling at them and they might just smile back.

photo credit: Tom Hafkenschiel

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Posted by Ditch the smart phone, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 4, 2014 at 6:02 am

I truly wonder if the cost to society, wrt smart phones, is worth the convenience.

Whenever I get sick of walking among the head down zombies I head into the Open Space areas. They have actual people there, focused on the living world and always willing to share a moment for a friendly chat.

Posted by cet, a resident of Cuernavaca,
on Jun 4, 2014 at 9:30 am

Pointless article.

Sent from my iPad.

Posted by Gary, a resident of another community,
on Jun 9, 2014 at 4:14 pm

This is an urban phenomena. I've lived in San Francisco since before the age of cell/smart phones and the residents weren't much more gregarious back then. I can't deny that cell phone usage has exacerbated the problem a bit, but people in urban ares learn how to create personal space in densely populated areas.

Posted by sf specific, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 9, 2014 at 5:51 pm

I read on some dating site that even though SF has lots of single women, they are notoriously difficult to engage in conversation and inro-grade flirting, relative to most other US cities. Not sure if the men are the same.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jun 9, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Good to hear from you guys. sf specific, I heard that too about "the Bay Area," not just woman. That said, there is this thing about being a single woman alone that is still odd in society. Not everywhere - but it's there. And now, because of cell phones, it's odd that anyone would be open to energy coming in that they don't control. That's why eating in public is a great thing - it gives us a reason to just hang and talk to new people. Put down your cell and say hi to the person next to you. Who knows, love may be right around the table!

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