Written by Jane Brody.
Hurray for the HotBlack Coffee cafe in Toronto for declining to offer Wi-Fi to its customers. There are other such cafes, to be sure, including seven of the eight New York City locations of Café Grumpy.
But it’s HotBlack’s reason for the electronic blackout that is cause for hosannas. As its president, Jimson Bienenstock, explained, his aim is to get customers to talk with one another instead of being buried in their portable devices.
“It’s about creating a social vibe,” he told a New York Times reporter. “We’re a vehicle for human interaction, otherwise it’s just a commodity.”
What a novel idea! Perhaps Mr. Bienenstock instinctively knows what medical science has been increasingly demonstrating for decades: Social interaction is a critically important contributor to good health and longevity.
Personally, I don’t need research-based evidence to appreciate the value of making and maintaining social connections. I experience it daily during my morning walk with up to three women, then before and after my swim in the locker room of the YMCA where the use of electronic devices is not allowed.
The locker room experience has been surprisingly rewarding. I’ve made many new friends with whom I can share both joys and sorrows. The women help me solve problems big and small, providing a sounding board, advice and counsel and often a hearty laugh that brightens my day.
And, as myriad studies have shown, they may also be helping to save my life.
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