Would you like your coffee shop to be different? This inquiry is simply because I have big psychological questions about the ones I frequent. I have one regular coffee shop, and two or three others I enjoy if am out and about between meetings and errands.
So what am I talking about? Most simply: I fear we are losing our ability to connect, to interact, to engage, to meet and greet new people. Because? When I enter a coffee shop –at least most of the time — I see any where from a dozen to more individuals, sitting separately, heads down, working on devices, paying zero attention — at least looks that way — to the people around them! Once in a while that changes, and there’s a bit of a “buzz” of quiet interaction; however, if measuring, I’d say 80% of the time, no one is interacting! My question: if you want peace and quiet, why not stay in your office or at home — or under a lovely shade tree in the park?
My most exaggerated concern is that people have conditioned themselves to NOT INTERACT and end up being fearful or just anxious about talking to someone they don’t know. Consequently that contributes to the increasing reports that people feel lonely and disengaged. If you read my blogs with any regularity, the evidence is that DEVICE ADDICTION is changing our brains. It changes our ability to communicate in any normal manner. And since we know that interaction with others, connection, engagement is highly linked to the level of happiness people feel, this is not good news.
So couple of questions: how does it feel to open a conversation with a total stranger you might be standing in line with or sitting at a table near by? Scary? Uncomfortable? It must be or more people would be talking to one another. Oh, I know many people go to coffee shops to work, to do research — on and on with the reasons. I just believe we are losing our mojo! And I have to add, this observation is coming from an INTROVERT. Regardless that the label fits me, I do talk to people, wherever I go. Trust me, people enjoy being engaged, even when it’s unexpected — are there exceptions to that statement? Certainly. But test yourself…..see how it feels to break out of your silent disengaged state next time you look around and see eyes glued to computers and phones….SAY SOMETHING!
I recently talked to one of the managers in my most regular coffee shop and made the following suggestion: get a megaphone. Every 45 minutes, announce a break to customers! Give some direction: tell people to stop what they are working on, look up, and start a conversation with someone close by! I honestly think it’s worth the experiment!
And I’d love to hear if you share my concern about your own coffee shop environment, or whether I’m just totally and irreservibly out of date with the DESIRED STATE OF COFFEE SHOPS. Mostly I’m concerned about individual well-being. I think you deserve new friends, new connections even if fleeting. If you try it, let me know how it goes! You do deserve to feel good!