The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

The Smartphone Slaughter of Small Talk

This was a job for the large round table in the sportsbar. The Grandmother seated herself between the mother-type woman and her pretty granddaughter, whose smooth face was turned down at her purple smartphone. The girl made conversation with her Grandma from time to time, but not eye contact.  A few minutes later more from the party arrived: the Dad, their high school aged son, their middle school aged son. Grandma put up her arms for a hug. The trio waved across the table and collapsed into their chairs, hurriedly checking their phones to find any news that may have been released during their laborious pedestrian commute from the car. The older brother hid under his hat and scanned facebook. The youngest boy held his phone below the table, leaning forward, trying not to be quite so blunt about his distraction. Their father set the standard and proudly displayed the many abilities of his iphone. Grandma nodded.

The oldest daughter joined them, finally completing the group, and didn’t even sit before opening her laptop. She passed this to her father who began a slideshow for Grandma of every single snapshot taken on their trip to Germany.

The kids kept to their gadgets, since we all know children should be seen and not heard. And Grandma sat politely for a while, gazing at the tops of her relatives’ heads and trying to smile, before she leaned toward the mother and sighed, “Alrighty. Hon, I’m bored.”

-Somewhere in Nebraska


–This whole scene reminded me of my dear, departed friend, Esther Horn. I visited her for over two years at a nursing home in a small town in Nebraska. Despite the seemingly repetitive daily life for so many people living in nursing homes, she always had a new experience to share. She collected ceramic cows–but she’d accept plastic ones too. She loved Fear Factor, professional wresting, crafts, and laughing.  She lit up my Wednesdays and I miss her horribly. I aspire to be so spunky.

Esther Horn, volunteering, nursing home

11 comments on “The Smartphone Slaughter of Small Talk

  1. Lime
    April 20, 2012

    I have enjoyed a couple of your posts & even this one..but sure sucks this was a real observation.

    • Thanks! They’re all true stories, but yes, this one was quite a bummer. Whatever happened to family chit chat?
      I thought it was BRILLIANT that the Grandma was bored and said so. Fiesty!

  2. heavenhappens
    March 21, 2014

    That’s really sad, if only everyone realised we have our older folk with us for such a short time-
    The phones are wonderful but they are addictive and damaging if they replace face to face communication.

    • I have such a soft spot for our older folk. I think it’s due to the way I just adored my grandparents.

      I agree that the phone is wonderful for airport pick-ups, car break-downs, and long-distance chit-chat. 🙂 They definitely have the drawback of setting us behind our own little screens.

      I took a note on this today, actually. I expect I’ll get on this topic again soon!

  3. M-R
    March 29, 2014

    I like because I don’t like it at all and you’re telling us about it. Which makes me understand that other people don’t like it either.
    Come Downunder when I’m in a home, eh, Paige ? [grin]

  4. suej
    March 29, 2014

    Good post, Paige, but desperately sad…where is face-to-face conversation going?

    • Yes, I didn’t mean for it to be sad. I liked the spunky grandma calling them out. I agree, though, it seems easy to get wrapped up in a gadget and miss the wonderful folks around us. 🙂
      Thank you!

      • suej
        April 1, 2014

        When I’m old I shall be spunky!!

      • Me too, Sue! I can’t wait! 🙂
        Well…I can wait a little while…

      • suej
        April 1, 2014


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