I was recently at a restaurant for my sister’s birthday when I noticed something immediately after walking in. We were in a small little place called Jack’s Wife Freda (excellent food by the way) and we were all waiting for our table. After taking a quick glance around the restaurant I noticed that almost every single couple, group, or even lone diner, had their cell phones out on top of the dinner table. Some face up, some face down.
This is not the first discovery or notice I’ve taken to this phenomenon, however it was definitely the most dramatic and obvious.
Now seeing this immediately frustrated and disappointed me. It made me realize how much our smartphones have taken over our lives and how much power these devices have over us. That’s right, these phones control us, not the other way around.
It seems like with the emergence of these phones that we have become incapable of even putting them away for 45 minutes to have dinner with a friend or significant other and only be thinking about, and living in, that moment. Our phones can’t leave our peripheral vision even during a time when we should (and claim to want) to be with those around you, and be completely present in the situation.
Now some may see a buzz or see a notification pop up and immediately grab it, no matter if we are talking or the person we are with is talking. We check it, maybe we respond, then put it back down. But even if we don’t check it, it still lights up or makes a sound. Very rarely do I find that if our phones are on the table that we actually silence them completely. So whether you think you’re being nice and not checking your phone, the people you are with still feel the buzz on the table or see your screen light up.
I really want to challenge you, myself, and all of these offenders to change the way we all behave. Because I know I fall into this habit from time to time. It’s very hard to keep this post from being a rant on how much I dislike this, so try to take this as genuinely as I mean it, no matter how I may be coming across.
The people we spend time with in person, face to face, deserve the respect to be the only one on your mind, the only thing you are focused on. It’s crazy to me that this phenomenon exists and that it can be seen anywhere you go. When we had flip phones we didn’t put them on the table while we ate with others, but because our smartphones connect us to everything and anything, they serve as an extension of your own self and they become an itch, a habit, a force that you can’t ignore for even an hour. Certain circumstances will obviously arise where this situation may be a necessity, but for most others, why can’t we all leave it in our pockets, jackets, or purses?
Our conversations are constantly being interrupted by the buzz or flash of a screen, and it can cause frustration to those on the other side of the table. It’s hurting the way we interact with others, it takes our attention away from the people and the things around you. Take the time to appreciate the fact that you are with others and be present. Leaving your phone off the table, silenced, or even better, turned off, will not only allow the other person to enjoy your company more, but will allow you to focus all of your attention on others and not what post your friend just tagged you in on Instagram.