On our last night in Siena, my friend Charlie and I hunted down the most talked about bistecca fiorentina in town. We started eating just before nine.
The restaurant was adorable, and the food was inconceivably tasty. We noshed on the chef’s buttery, salty masterpiece—a T-bone steak Florentine style—and sipped on some relatively fancy Tuscan wine (this was our last supper; we did it up) while we eavesdropped (probably not the right verb, considering we had absolutely no idea what they were saying) on the five suit-wearing, cane-bearing, unreservedly exemplary Italian grandpas conferencing at the table next to us. We stuck around past midnight. For almost three-and-a-half hours, Charlie and I just sat, laughed, and ate.
Now, at the risk of sounding utterly pathetic, I concede that I found it acutely impressive that two Millennials were able to enjoy each other’s company for two hundred minutes uninterrupted by iMessage or Twitter (post-SIM debacle, we remained phone-less for the remainder of the trip). Maybe we had successfully appropriated the Italian way; maybe we actually like talking to one another. Regardless, between the food and my friend, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
On the flight back to New York, when I wasn’t violently blubbering at The Butler, I was left thinking about pace. Having grown up in Manhattan, I’m all too comfortable with living at a certain, snappy speed—one that’s only quickened by smart phones and Google glasses and Amazon drones or whatever it is the kids are ‘gramming these days. I know, I know: we get it, “the city that never sleeps,” Generation Apple, and all that jazz. I don’t mean to recite any silly banalities, it’s just that I don’t think I’d ever realized how ‘foreign’ the concept of sitting down for a long dinner with a friend [without any technological crutches] is. It was lovely, but honestly, it might’ve been entirely unique.
So forgive me for sounding like an infomercial or Gossip Girl or something, but, as a college students of the 21st century (and I realize this applies to high schoolers, sixth graders, and sh*t, probably kindergarteners, too), we live on our phones. And they make our lives at once incredibly uninvolved and singularly complicated. Because when you have a smart phone—and, with very few exceptions, we all do—communication is effortless, making any lack thereof completely unacceptable. And to be patently clear, I am very aware that this is, indeed, a *quality problem*. I certainly don’t pity myself, and I doubt I’d have it any other way; after living sans iPhone for a month, I can confidently say that, sadly, sh*t’s pretty hard. I was constantly thinking about where the closest internet bar was and how soon I could get there so I could catch up on everything I was sure I had missed since the last time I’d had WiFi. But I feel you, Mom: there might be reason to be nostalgic of that unthinkably far-gone age when, in their phone-less fugue states, people were involved in each other’s lives on a different, arguably more intimate scale than we Millenials. It was a lovely way to recharge (ha ha) before heading back to school, I must admit.
Less texting, more talking; doesn’t that sound kind of nice?