The Great Misconception: Technology Doesn’t Bring Us Together, It Keeps Us Apart


The Great Misconception: Technology Doesn’t Bring Us Together, It Keeps Us Apart


I head out to the same coffee shop every Sunday morning and camp out for a few hours. That’s where I do most of my writing. I find that when I’m out of my home, I escape the distractions of a space that needs me, requires me to clean the dishes, put away the puddle of books, mail, toys and toe nail clippings spilled across each horizontal surface of my home. Leaving my home, my space, to write allows me to draw on human inspiration as I focus on organizing the rattlings in my head.

This morning I’m really digging on the the music playing at the coffee shop and recalling an interview with this band on the radio just the other day. I’m compelled to ask the baristas, who are just hanging out. Its early, people are sleeping in and not yet ready for their morning jolt. Then I think, I have an app on my phone that can answer the question. There I am again, technology rescuing me from interacting with my community.

What is it about us that drives us to hold all knowledge in our pockets? Are we so proud that we must immediately remedy our ignorance with a quick google search? Could it be embarrassing or would I be revealing my age to admit that I don’t know the most relevant band of the day, by asking? Would it be like someone of my parent’s generation asking who Duran Duran was?

Working retail and for so many years, I love talking with people, my very own Mr Roger’s neighborhood. The interactions with customers, neighborhood residents, tourists, staff and others in the community have truly been the greatest reward of owning a brick and mortar operation. I’ve learned more from my staff, my neighbors and my fellow business owners. From best business practices, neighborhood history, political insight and new music, I’ve been fortunate to engage with a community diverse in color, age and sexual orientation. And I believe there is an exchange going on. I hope that I’m sharing some wisdom from a customer from a few days ago with a tourist from clear across the country. This is something we just don’t get from our safe and familiar facebook friends.

So, when I’m at my local coffee joint, I enjoy learning about new music from talking with people, exchanging ideas and inspiration. I don’t need or want Spotify or whatever algorithm to turn me onto my next favorite band. Baristas are cool peeps, by the way, doing a hell of a lot of awesome things when they aren’t creating pretty foam art on your cappuccino! (For the record, I’m a tea drinker). They are into all kinds of cool projects. Why wouldn’t you want to talk to them?! So ditch your keurig and your cel phone, lap top, tablet, whatever tethers you have to instant gratification and head out into the world. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. Learn something, share something!

And hit me up, if you want to hear what I’ve got playing on heavy rotation. By the way, the band playing at the coffee shop, was Sylvan Esso. I didn’t use an app to find out.

Sarah Shaoul