The Lost Bar Debate

The other evening, I was curious about the score of a game and almost texted my family before realizing it was fewer steps to simply look up the score. On the pro of texting, I might learn something more about that game, but the con was that I might annoy family members with the thought of “why doesn’t he just look this up?”

This brought me to fond memories of early days in bars with friends before smart phones. In our early 20’s, we were blind to our own ignorance, and our conversations discussed and solved the worlds issues. Then the solutions were promptly forgotten.

Almost a nightly occurrence was the sharing of some bit of knowledge which was either incomplete or suspect. Facts were needed in either case, but there was no method to get these facts. So, what did we do?

We debated. Typically, with such fervor and expletives that we would attract an audience. And of course, some of these people would engage and become part of the conversation. Views were shared, arguments continued with no resolution, and most importantly, friendships were formed and grew.

I was recently seated outdoors at a bar/restaurant with 3 friends. The experience was reminiscent of those times. Not due to debates, but we did attract an audience in the form of a nearby (greater than 6ft) couple. As they were leaving, they interjected that they had been entertained by our conversation and referenced anecdotes such as cryptocurrencies, spaceflight, skiing, and The Mandalorian that showed they had been listening for well over an hour.

My takeaways as I look back:

  • My friends and I have not lost our knack for drawing others’ interest.
  • In non-COVID, maybe that table would have asked to join us and the conversation.
  • How much more wide-ranging and lively could the conversation have been without smartphone use?

And that last one is the challenge for me and anyone else who wants to join. The next time I am out to dinner or at a bar, I am going to challenge my friends to not look up any information on their phone the whole time we are there.

Debate. Scan the depths of memory. Hell, ask the server! But avoid the temptation of pulling out the smartphone.

I am going to try this in the next month, and then again post-COVID. Who knows, maybe it will be my new norm. And if anyone reading this tries, please comment with your experience.

NOTE: Please respect all COVID protocols and be safe during trials.

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