A flash of annoyance

I try not to be a 63 year old curmudgeon. I read a few waspish elder's blogs just to make myself feel magnanimous. (No, they are not in my blogroll.) Man, some of them can get their crank on!

One writer griped because she went to Chico's and "the size 0 is nothing like the 0 I know." Chico's do use a sizing system that differs from the 0-16 convention, but  the store and website provide a chart explaining it.
Chico's job aid for sizing

I've noticed that as we get older, we tend to complain about what we don't understand.

" 'I don't understand it' is the greatest screen for incompetence", says an old friend, a tech inventor pushing 70. The antidote is simple: stay curious, keep learning. Ask a younger friend to tutor, take a free Apple Store class.

It's natural to gripe, to try to fit the world to our habitual patterns.  And when we adopt new behaviours, especially those that involve technology, we might think about the unanticipated results.  

Example: people photographing their meals in a restaurant. Not dangerous, like driving while using a cell phone, but intrusive and unpleasant.
You are sitting there, gazing into your companion's eyes or maybe just figuring out what movie to see, and suddenly someone has her butt shoved into your table, photographing her faijitas. Next course, same thing, but now it's dark and she's using her flash. And using it. 

Dessert: does not one chocolate mousse look pretty much like another? She takes at least six shots.

If a diner wishes to document a meal, I wish she would so only when tables are well apart, she does not need a flash, and her behind isn't grazing my bread plate. (Is my dining ruining your perspective?)

Is it odd that I don't mind taking a photo for someone nearby? On our last trip, a couple at the next table ordered a classic seafood tower, three magnificent, briny tiers of shellfish. They asked us to take their photo with their treat; I was happy to oblige.

Same with birthdays, friends who want a memory or the serving of something so unusual that you never want to forget what can be done with spun sugar. The spirit of celebration overrides any inconvenience; I want them to have that photo.

While I find the habit of texting at a table even more obnoxious, it is the business of the parties dining together, and does not intrude on my experience. Photos do.


Anonymous said…
With the younger generation, Plato's quote is revised, "The undocumented life is not worth living." If it's not posted on Facebook, it didn't happen.

Tish Jett said…
Oooooh, loved this. Really think a good rant -- and this is a good one -- is excellent for the soul. And, maybe, just maybe someone is paying attention.

Oh yes, I have a friend who likes to point out with great pride she knows nothing about technology and has no plans to learn. Therefore her friends cannot (do no longer) send her pictures and only write a note once or twice a year, etc. They told her she would hear from them weekly, if not daily, if she would learn how to write and receive e-mails.

Her life is based on "life was better when. . ."

She is a lonely woman unfortunately.

All the best toujours,
Unknown said…
I think it is so important to stay curious and to keep learning. I used to be a bit of a technophobe but to do my blog I simply had to learn mostly by experimentation and some tips from my son and the lovely people at the Apple Genius bar.
I plan to take my Photography 2 class next January and improving my French is next on the list.
I just love learning new things I think it helps keep one young.
Tiffany said…
The food photography thing is definitely rude and annoying when it impinges on the comfort and enjoyment of other diners ...
Anonymous said…
As Tish said - excellent rant. I also know a number of people who have turned their noses up at technology and want things "the way they used to be." They're missing out on so much, because the world goes forward, and they're left behind. Oh well.
Duchesse said…
Tricia: The urge to document is ever growing; I understand it but do not participate.

Tish: Have never seen so many people photographing their meals, as I have seen in the last year. Wonder what they do with the photos.

Chicatanyage: Good for you! I like to make a "to learn" list and chip away at it.

Tiffany: A patron can contribute a great deal to the ambience of a restaurant. Have heard that some restaurants ban photography.

kathy peck: Since I have moved to a new city, I am delighted to be able to Skye with old friends; the connection is so good it's like sitting across a table.
M said…
You're obviously ticked off that someone was taking pictures of her meal. I'm with you so far... but, how do WASP's and elder's fit in to this? I'm quite certain my 28 year old daughter would find this offensive as well. Bad behavior spans an ever widening range of ages and cultures.
Duchesse said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Duchesse said…
M.: I did not say they were WASPS.

During two recent trips, I observed that the persons photographing every dish were middle aged or older, and mostly women.

These generations did not grow up with digital photography, so are perhaps excited about how many photos they can take, and in their enthusiasm do not notice that they might be intruding on other patron's enjoyment and space.
M said…
You said you read some WASPish elder's blogs to feel "magnanimous" and emphasized that they are not on your blogroll. Apparently you believe that will give you some sort of credibility with your readership. That part of your post is more interesting than the story about the women photographing the food.
Nancy said…
@M: Duchesse used the adjective "waspish" (all lower case). The relevant definitions are "Easily irritated or annoyed; irascible" and "Indicative of irritation, annoyance, or spite: a waspish remark."
coffeeaddict said…
I'm of a younger generation and the constant camera flashes annoy me. Though I do sometimes take a picture of my food or the interior of a restaurant I do it discreetly with the flash off.
Rubi said…
Photographing food is right up there with analyzing orgasms and poetry. As a college friend once said, "You can understand it, or you can experience it."
frugalscholar said…
Oops-we are guilty of photographing food but I swear we are in our seats when we do it! Seems like waspish may be one of those "old-fashioned" words now. I love it and am determined to use it--usually I say "crabby." It's a word that deserves to be in the everyday lexicon.

My husband still says "icebox," like everyone else in his family.

And as for loss of curiosity--that's why i'm afraid to stop working. LAst year, I learned such useful terms from my students as "drunktext" and "bromance." The second one is very useful.
M said…
Duchesse-I've added "waspish" to my vocabulary. Sorry I took offense where, now I know, none was intended. On the subject of photographing food, I had no idea people did this. What's the point? What do they do with the pictures?
Duchesse said…
M: "Waspish", uncapitalized, is an adjective meaning "readily expressing anger or irritation", as other readers have noted.

coffeeaddict: I can certainly live with that!

Rubi: Classic Rubi! LOL!

Frugal: I still say "dial" a phone and would readily understand "icebox". Will be interested to see what new words stay in our lexicon.
Duchesse said…
M: Thanks.

Am guessing it is part of the ever-more-prevalent urge to document a trip or outing. I have also seen people walking through tourist sites, recording every second. It is as if the videography is the experience, not the actual moments spent there.

Or, perhaps they are worried about not fully remembering an experience?

Maybe someone who does this will contribute a comment.
Marsha said…
I myself tend to split the difference between willful ignorance and unnecessary knowledge, and the sizing system at Chico's is an area in which I happily employ my willful ignorance, mostly because it is so obviously body negative (can anyone explain to me how a human being with a tangible physical identity can take a size zero?). I just let the salesperson find me the size that I need; she can do this just by looking at me.
Susan Tiner said…
In my experience, curmudgeon-hood affects a spectrum of ages, but I too have noticed it more among older friends and acquaintances, especially with respect to technology.

Photographing food outside of the context of celebration makes no sense to me.

We did agree as a choir this year that we would not text during the Church service. I swear this actually came up as a question to be settled. Meanwhile, texting continues during rehearsals and before the service begins. So much for enjoying a peaceful space without distractions.
LPC said…
Duchesse, so EXACTLY true. The way I put it is that I refuse to start saying the world is going to hell in a handbasket. It's a lot of work, maintaining a youthful attitude, but I am going to guess that it's worth it in the end.
Marie-Christine said…
Have you thought of whipping out your phone and ostentatiously taking pictures of -her-, preferably of her butt in the bread? I'm sure that'd make your point very well. Kind of like I used to butt into the conversations that cell phone users inflicted upon me, pretending I wasn't there. Being polite doesn't cut it here..
emma said…
Our society seems to value capturing images & events to relive later, after the fact, more than fully experiencing it in the present, unmediated by technology.
I was at a funeral where a 50 something family member started taking photos with a flash during the eulogy. I nearly fell off my pew. And I was the only person who was shocked! Never mind that the funeral home mailed us all dvds of the service..,a standard practice now.
A friend of mine says that at her daughter's school recitals some of the parents watch the whole thing through the viewer of their movie camera...

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