Larkspur Ferry | Mark Lindsay

The more public the place the more private we become. It's gotten worse lately. I was having a drink in a bar with a friend when I watched a young man approach an attractive, young woman who was seated on a bar stool. He did his best to charm, cajole, brag and strut his stuff like a mummer in Philadelphia on New Year's Day. The woman was hardly impressed. She turned to her smart phone and disappeared into her own little world. The young guy stood his ground for a few minutes, then tried to look cool as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. He walked away in rejection, his mummer's strut gone.

This vignette sent me into my murky past. When I was of courting age things were difficult enough. At least, back then we didn't need to compete with cell phones and text messages for the attention of young women—not that it helped very much. Feeling dorky around women is an timeless affliction for young men, smart phones or not.

It's so easy to avoid each other these days. It's now rare to see strangers of any kind, anywhere, in conversation. We are hopelessly consumed by our Blackberry, iPad, iPod, or laptop computer. And if that isn't around, a newspaper or paperback will still do the trick. Even with GPS on our clever, little devices, we're mostly lost in our own little world.