Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

I was reading recently that 95% smart phone users in my generation (the Millenials) use their phone before eating, and 49% consider their smart phones an integral part of their dining experience. Instantly I thought, “Sounds about right,” as I reflected on the number of times I had scrolled through my facebook feed while I ate lunch, looked up a restaurant menu on the way to a new place, or saw a friend post a photo of their dinner. The next thought I had? How sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I am completely, totally in love with my iPhone. Let me count the ways. It makes going to Brooklyn a whole lot less scary when I know my handy friend GPS can help navigate me from a foreign subway stop to the house party. What ever I’m trying to do, there really is an app for that. After moving recently, I couldn’t get over how many times I pulled out my level app, and marveled about the fact that I was using my phone (PHONE!) to make pictures hang evenly. When my friends are late, I am never without a game to play without trying to stuff my Nintendo DS or a magazine into my clutch. I LIKE being able to have constant updates on what my friends are up to on facebook, and being able to scan headlines on twitter to stay up to date on the news.

But with every piece of wonderfulness, there’s the people who take it too far, and the downsides. I mean, how many times have you had friends bail on you last minute via text? It’s so easy to fire off a sentence without guilt when you don’t have to hear the disappointment in the other person’s voice or see the sad expression on their face. Or what about those people who seem so busy posting about all the fun they’re having that it makes you wonder, are they really enjoying the moment, or are they just so focused on letting other people know they’re enjoying it that they forget to really experience themselves?

If a tree falls in the forest, and no ones posts a video on facebook, does it really make a sound?

All this constant need for updates has led to a syndrome that I’m sure you’ve heard about, fear of missing out (FOMO). People curate a happy wonderful life online that shows only the awesome moments. People who don’t take that with a grain of salt feel that their ordinary lives don’t measure up.

But when I think about the moments when I’m so happy I can’t stop smiling, high fiving, and talking about how much fun I’m having? Well, there usually isn’t a smart phone anywhere in sight. They’re the times at trivia when you’re forced (by the rules) to keep your iPhone in your purse, and everyone has to talk together to figure out the answers. Or when you’re at a music festival with no plugs to charge it, and no annoying person in front of you at the concert videoing the whole show with device above their heads, uploading pictures to instagram, and blocking your view of the stage. They’re times spent camping, and tearing up the dance floor in a fancy dress at your friend’s wedding when your dress doesn’t have any pockets.

I love my iPhone, and the powers it has granted me, but sometimes it makes me wonder. Do we really want to be the generation, who’s constant univited dinner partner is our phone? I mean, really, we know enough not to put our elbows on the table, is it really good manners to put our phones there instead?

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