Nancy and I are board members for a couple of home owners associations (HOA) for properties we own in town. Recently we have found it convenient to have our board meetings at the local Starbucks coffee shops. I don’t drink “gourmet” coffee, finding my morning cup of generic ole Yuban more than sufficient to get me on my way. So other than our periodic HOA meetings, I never visit Starbucks.
So maybe I am alien to this coffeehouse culture, but don’t people frequent coffee shops to socialize? I can’t tell you how many Rick Steves travel adventure shows I’ve watched on public television, but it seems he is always promoting planting your tourist ass in a coffee shop to people watch and meet the locals.
So why is it that each time I have visited Starbucks, everyone there is sitting alone at a table for four with their face buried in a notebook computer or i-phone? There’s no socializing, no conversations to eavesdrop on, only the incessant tapping of keyboards or thumbs dancing on a miniscule screen.
Why are these people there in Starbucks, NOT interacting with anyone present? I find it difficult to believe that none of these people have internet connections at home and have schlepped down to the coffee house merely for the free Wi-Fi. Do they somehow feel the need for the proximity other human presence but suffer from Terminal Geekiness which renders them too introverted to speak directly to another human face?
Seriously, the ONLY time I have witnessed more that one person sitting at a table in Starbucks has been us during our HOA meetings.
In researching this article I ran across Field guide to Wifi users at Starbucks. I swear that, in my few brief visits, I have seen at least half of these characters represented in the article. I think the next time I go to Starbucks, I may order an Italian soda with cream and sit down opposite one of these lonely folks and stare at them over their screen to see how long it takes for them to notice, or god forbid, say something.