This is one of the obvious facts that passed me by until I came across an article by Michael Idov in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Bringing the Buzz Back to the Café: Once they plotted revolutions, now they’re typing blogs. Today’s cafe society is a weak decaf.” I don’t go to coffee shops all that much, but I spent a couple of hours at Grounded on Jane Street recently, online of course, and now feel chagrined as I realize that I was just another laptopper:
The laptoppers hog the tables, but they do the coffeehouse experience an even deeper disservice. They make it a solitary one, and it’s a different kind of solitude from the stance sung by Hemingway. You’re not just alone—you’re in another universe entirely, inaccessible to anyone not directly behind you.
No good calling something a public space just because there are lots of people there. Fascinating to consider how we became so capable of being alone together.