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Welcome. Comedy critic Jason Zinomon wrote this week how He misses being a member of the audience. He said, “The buzzing night of the Broadway blockbuster, the drunken advance energythe creator, “When the crowd is awake or surprised when the collective gasps, there is an emotional release during the powerful performance.” He even remembers the specific etiquette of being an audience member: “I mourn the loss of its minor rituals: the joy of eavesdropping on your front row, the economical art of intermission, with a friend.” Prudent discussion way out of the theater
I had a drink last night at a restaurant, the weather was warm enough for a minute to be able to sit outside at the tables laid out safely. The scene was simple – servers, order takers, couple sharing fries, children’s voices occasionally audible over low dines – and not at all ordinary. I imagined that we all felt how special it was to be a part of this scene, to sit nearby and get acquainted with each other, to a feast of information that simply provided the sight of a stranger. It was extraordinary to wonder where the man got his shoes at the next table.
When my partner went to the toilet, I did not, as might be the case before the epidemic, check my phone. I wanted to soak it all in, be present and participate as a member of this temporary combination of other humans. I wanted to participate in the “minor rituals” that Jason Zinomon described; I wanted to hide.
I saw a tweet when I got home that made me have my own precious laugh about sitting in a restaurant with strangers:
I also feel indifferent to a time many years ago, a time before the advent of cell phones, when waiting was a social activity. The moment we had undetermined time alone, we did not evacuate the campus, migrating to texts or email or social media. Being six feet away from strangers now feels like a strange privilege, and it feels useless to allocate our attention elsewhere, when there is so much to be gained from the nodes of acknowledgment, small. See, seeing and seeing each other.
A reader gives advice.
New York City explorer Lisa Ann A day without screen And wrote a poem about the experience:
For 24 hours I watched without a screen.
off work; No appointment
So I had the means.
I had many headaches reading messages.
So I decided that I would be a slave to email more.
I lack constant concentration,
Another source of my frustration.
Also my online activity
No doubt i make sense
To read less. That takes a toll!
You see books feed my soul.
What cultural apathy have you been experiencing lately? Is it laughter with your fellow audience members in films? Is it long before the epidemic, such as phone-free bars and restaurants? Is this a video rental store? tell us: Athome@nytimes.com. We are doing At home. We will read every letter sent. As always, more ideas for living a good life at home appear below. See you on friday