I’m an undergraduate in America. So I check my cell phone every eleven seconds, respond to email within the hour, and binge drink on the regular. I do all of these things simultaneously at parties.
Becoming aware of my own impatience in social settings was an exercise in nausea. I looked around at friends taking shots and porch-sitting amiably on a barely breezy summer night.
“Where are we going next?”
“Okay, and after that?”
“I heard she’s all coked up.”
“It’s fine, we have options.”
We all have boundless options, really, because we’re a text away from anywhere but here. Double majors. Three boyfriends. Four messages asking us to smoke pot/ drink beer/ writhe at various locations on campus. Fifty Facebook friends we’ve never even met.
But what’s so awful about this party?
“It’s getting stale.”
“I promised my friend Kate we’d stop by.”
“There’d better be decent alcohol at the next stop.”
We can’t sit still. And that’s okay, because when we hang out, we all warm our laps with little boxes wearing glowing fruit. Videos of animals in their infancy are there to fill the sagging space where conversation used to reside. We really need never look each other in the eye, unless we’re doing Facetime.
And so we’ll grow restless with the restlessness. We’ll go analog. We’ll host parties where instead of keys, everyone tosses phones into a bowl. We’ll smirk and scoff about dependence upon little boxes with screens. Later on, we can leave a perfectly wonderful gathering, full of the people we like, for a mediocre one.
Happiness will keep evading us. The real world does not have Wi-Fi.