Guest blogger Lorie Sheffer: The extra person in the room

untitled (photo: Lorie Sheffer)
untitled (photo: Lorie Sheffer)


You’ll find them at the dinner table, in coffee shops, on the beach and just strolling down the street on a nice day. They can be seen in cars, at the mall, or in the grocery store. They are “the extra person in the room”. They are the electronic devices. Almost a species of their own, they are carried around and talked to, given attention and frantically searched for if they go missing.

I stood back and took notice of how, when watching a pay per view movie over the Thanksgiving holiday, there were several “extra people”, uninvited mind you, who were getting lots of attention. One “extra” was playing backgammon with my husband, who wasn’t interested in the movie. Another was facilitating a chat between my grandson and his friend. The third was sending real time photos of scenes of the movie to my daughter’s social media account. The following day I watched a woman get her dog’s leash tangled in her legs while chatting with her friend via “the extra person”. (By the way, I now know what she pays for car insurance, what gift she is getting for her husband for Christmas and how much she paid through Amazon, and that she’s pretty sure the relationship between her sister and married coworker is no longer platonic.) While getting groceries, I was treated to the details of a woman’s gynecological exam, as she relayed that experience to her mother via the “extra person”. I’ve been shown real time photos of people I have never met doing things I have no interest in. I’ve watched people so preoccupied with “sharing” something as it was happening that I’m not real sure they were fully aware of the experience themselves, even though they were RIGHT THERE.

The result? I am setting out to prove there is life without “them”. The holiday season is hectic, what with the baking, shopping and meal planning. This year, I am going to go through Christmas without the help of social media or cell phone. The computer will be limited. I will buy a few things on line that I can’t get locally, but will finally pay a visit to some of the lovely little mom and pop shops downtown. I may look up a recipe or two, but more probably I will peruse those dusty old cookbooks I’ve collected over the years.

The “extra person” is not invited. I plan to savor the season without added distraction. I want to be fully engaged in the experience.

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By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.