Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The only sounds in the apartment were of forks and knives scraping against our plates and an occasional, “Could you pass the salt?”

Just another dinner with my roommates.

We aren’t always like this, we’re usually talking to each other about current events- usually something that we saw on Twitter earlier that day or our favorite TV shows.

We text each other during the day, and when we’re preparing dinner in the kitchen we talk to each other about our classes. But when it comes to sitting down at the dinner table, we’re as quiet as church mice.

So what is it that happens when we sit down at the dinner table? What happened to sitting down to dinner with your friends or family and sharing your day with them?
My mom has always told me stories about her family dinners growing up where everybody talked about their day and shared stories.

Is our generation too far past that? Or is it that people don’t have anything to say anymore because they say everything through technology?

I believe that we use phones as a way to avoid face to face communication because why talk to someone when you can just tweet or text them?

I walk around campus and see people walking and looking down at their phones, on the bus everybody is looking down at their phones on social media, and before classes start everybody sits in silence on their cell phones (myself included).

When my roommates and I order out for dinner, we do it online so we don’t have to talk to people on the phone. We can’t even bother to spend five minutes on the phone with a person.

My roommates and I are constantly on our phones, checking to see what’s trending on social media and tweeting about it. We have become a culture that is so consumed with what’s going on in a screen that we forget how to interact with each other face to face.

The part that boggles my mind though is that we don’t even use our phones during dinner, they sit next to our plates like unused silverware, but even as they buzz and go off, we don’t touch them.

It’s like we know that using phones during dinner is rude, so we abide by that unspoken rule, but we can’t find anything to say. By the time dinner rolls around we have used our 140 character limit for the day, so we sit in silence.

We’re all very aware we are silent during dinner too, because we make observations about it. “We’re always so quiet when we’re eating” is said at least once during every dinner by one of us. Then we laugh awkwardly about it and continue eating our dinner in silence.

I think that we have become so used to avoiding communication with people that we don’t want to communicate with (i.e. people sitting next to us on the bus) that we have lost the art of communication with people that we want to communicate with (like my roommates).

When I brought up the fact that our apartment is like the quiet floor in the library during our dinners to my roommates, they didn’t seem to have a problem with it or seem to think it was a big deal, and it was then that I realized that I, in fact, have a problem with our silent dinners.

That made me realize something about myself, something that no child wants to realize: at 21 years old I am turning into my mother.

Family dinners at home have one rule: no phones at the table, even though my brother continually breaks that rule and my mom constantly has to tell him to put it away. I, on the other hand, am the perfect child because I don’t even bother bringing my phone to the table.

But, even though family dinners at home are not as silent as dinners here at school are, there are nights when all you can hear is the dogs under the table whining for scraps.

If you asked my brother and dad their opinion they would say that they are content with the silence and it doesn’t have to be filled with chatter all the time, but my mother has other ideas.

My mom is constantly trying to fill the silence with questions like “how was your day?” and “how was work, honey?” Sometimes she’ll get so desperate that she’ll ask questions like, “what do you think of Donald Trump?” and that’s when everyone usually gets annoyed.

But, as annoying as my mom’s persistent chatter can be, it usually ends up somehow getting the rest of us talking, and we can no longer hear the whining of the dogs over our chatter.

Maybe I should take my mom’s strategy when eating dinner with my roommates and chatter on and on and hope that they eventually join in.

Maybe the unrelenting chatter will snap each of us out of our technology obsession and instead of the scraping of forks and knives, our apartment will be filled with the sounds of five girls chattering about boys and the latest fashions.

Keeley Gould is a fourth-year student majoring in English and minoring in journalism. She can be reached at KG787739@wcupa.edu.

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