Miscellaneous France observation

We don’t have Wi-Fi Internet in the apartment we rent, so last evening, out on a long early evening walk, we kept our eyes open for a cafe with wireless.

Toulouse is France’s fourth largest city, a cosmopolitan metropolis with a small and intimate feel. There are restaurants and cafe’s on all corners, and on the blocks in between.

No one, anywhere, was sitting in front of a laptop. Over the course of an hour and a hundred venues, not one.

I’d noted the absence before, but never how complete. Walk into an American coffee shop, or bar, or anything short of a Michelin-star restaurant, and you will probably find half the patrons on a computer or smartphone or iPad or Kindle.

I can’t decide how I feel about this. Last night it drove me crazy, since I just wanted to get something downloaded and then get on with my evening.

But I remember thinking to myself: these people are all sitting in groups and talking to one another.

Everyday life is enriched by the Internet and social media. Surely this is a habit, however, that has gone too far?

11 thoughts on “Miscellaneous France observation

  1. My god this sounds like heaven. I cannot comprehend who needs a fecking iPad. When did we become so time-poor, so desperately attached to things that we needed to access Flickr over lunch?

    And the kind of people who use an iPad over a coffee – have they lost the attention spans necessary to read a chapter of a book? or a short story? Can they not talk to friends without the aid of youtube or facebook to find a topic of conversation?

    Grumble A. Luddite

  2. I think some of those people on iPads *are* reading a book chapter, or a short story, or a blog post….

  3. I love Ranil’s comment, though Matt may be right too. I think iPads, blackberries etc do increase the ADD in people

  4. What an introspective paragraphs you have written here ! I was recently thinking on same pattern. A question was arising on the horizons of mind. Does Internet and social media are alienating us from real people for virtual connectivity ? i am not sure how to answer this question. Can you answer it for me….

  5. People in France go to cafes to socialize, not to work. I think that might be the explanation. At least in Paris, you can get public wi-fi. You need a subscription, but maybe you could get a short term one?

  6. Hmm, I’m studying in Toulouse next year, should hope that there is enough public wifi. I think the problem in France is that using a computer or mobile phone in a public place is considered antisocial. People use their machines when they are at home. There is a widespread negative attitude towards anything even remotely “geeky”.

  7. I think you are looking in the wrong places. In both rural France and rural Canada, I am always sure to find free public wifi outside of public offices (e.g. post offices) and other public services (especially libraries). Just pull up outside and scan for networks, always works for me!

  8. All McDonald’s restaurants in France have free WiFi, as my girlfriend has just kindly pointed out to me (she called me from one in Toulouse a couple months ago). Just because half the patrons aren’t using their computers doesn’t mean there isn’t WiFi about… Also, while I haven’t lived in the states for the last two years, I’m not sure which bars/coffee shops/non-Michelin star restaurants you have been going to. Aside from Starbucks I rarely see anyone on a computer, even in places that actively advertise their free WiFi.

  9. Great to see you can find the positive in this… wow people here are really ‘down to earth’…
    The flipside, is I’m sure there are lots of young French living in Toulouse who bemoan the lack of wireless hah.