My husband is the kind of guy who forgets to stay in touch with friends—which is to say that making plans tends to fall under my jurisdiction. He’ll momentarily consider, but rarely act on, my suggestions that he go out with a friend for a beer. You can imagine my surprise when one day, while we were driving at night and I was fighting heavy eyelids to stay focused on the road, I noticed that he was fully absorbed in what I assumed was a work email. When I asked him what he was doing, he said “playing Words with Friends.” “With whom?” “Kim.”What?” “Kim.” “Why?” “We’ve become Words with Friends Friends.” “But we never see her.” “I know, that’s the point, it’s how we stay in touch.”
Let’s back up. First of all, I love Kim and I don’t think there’s anything going on with her. Secondly, we have an unspoken rule that you have to keep the driver company, especially when driving at night. Thirdly, it occurs to me that while work emails are sometimes justifiable during family time, the line for acceptable electronic interference becomes increasingly blurred when said diversion is A GAME! When this happened a second time on a rare commitment-free Saturday morning just as we were rousing, only this time it was with with a former colleague named William, I got really annoyed. We are two people with busy jobs, two kids, lots of responsibility, and very little down time. The voice of rage, which takes the form of a passive aggressive stage whisper, says “We have so little time together and you are playing electronic Scrabble with a friend you never even email?” The voice of the admitted hypocrite says “is it any worse, if not a little better, than the texting I do with family and friends sometimes even after we turn out the lights at night?” The truth is it’s all so incredibly rude, an even sneakier version of looking over someone’s shoulder while they are talking to you, and we do it anyway. We should vow to step away from our devices when we are in the car or in bed for those few precious moments after the kids are down and there is a chance for real conversation.