Yes, there’s no argument that mobile phones are crucial to the lifestyle of most Americans these days, but what happens when you sit down for a meal at a restaurant? Should you silence and store your device and focus on the people across the table, or is it acceptable to check your messages or take a call from time to time? The He Said, She Said team weighs in on this digital debate.
She Said – By Elizabeth C.
Put it away! Dining is an experience that happens in the moment. If you spend the meal checking in on Four Square, Instagraming your food, posting it to Facebook and checking to see how many likes that Tiramisu got you, you’re missing the point!
Restaurants take pains to provide an enjoyable experience for diners, from décor, to wait staff, to menu items. If you have your head down texting throughout the meal, you’ll miss all of it. Not to mention, it’s rude – not only to your dining companions, but to everyone else in the restaurant. I don’t want to see flashbulbs going off while the table next to me photographs their cheesecake for a Pinterest board, nor do I care to hear a business deal being conducted on the phone from across the restaurant.
There is a reason some restaurants have taken to posting signs requesting that cell phones be silenced and put away while dining. There’s also a reason texting at the table is a frequent member of the “top 10 dating mistakes” club. I love my phone as much as anyone else, and am certainly guilty of sneaking a peek during lulls in conversation or when my dining companions leave to use the restroom, but overall, I think the table is one of those places for which silent mode was invented.
He Said – By Phil V.
While I think I may have agreed with Liz completely as little as a year ago, my opinion has begun to sway in the other direction (and for the record, I’m not very happy with myself for feeling this way). Our phones have become such an integral part of our lives, for better or worse, that they are almost an extension of ourselves. Phones at a dinner table have become just as common as forks and knives and I don’t think that is something that will change any time soon.
Perhaps it is time that we just embrace this social evolution and all accept the fact that phones are not only not going anywhere, but they are becoming more a part of our lives everyday. Just a few nights ago I went to dinner with friends and as we were seated, the first thing that everyone did was put their phone on the table in front of them. The interesting part is that I can honestly say it did not detract from our experience in the least. Sure, every now and then someone may have briefly disengaged to check a text, the score alert on a game they were following, or even post a picture of their food, but it didn’t faze any of us. We have changed culturally and that change is something that has become widely accepted and even commonplace.
It may not be ideal that the idea of a technology-free dining experience is becoming extinct, but it is simply a part of our change as a culture. This isn’t unlike adding TVs to restaurants, or even music. There was a time when there were no distractions of technology to interrupt a meal, but those times are long passed. Today it is a phone and down the road it will be something new (Google Glass perhaps?), but by then no one will give a second thought to a phone at the dinner table. We now live in a connected world and that world comes with new social norms that we all need to adjust to and ultimately accept. I too might long for the days of a dinner uninterrupted by Facebook status updates, Scorecenter alerts and YouTube videos of a cat playing the piano, but unfortunately I think those days are in the past.
What do you think about you or your dinner companions using phones at the table? Is it the new normal or a trend that we need to stop? Let us know in the comments below!