When my wife and I go out to dinner we have a rule: Only one person can have their phone out at a time. Two people with their phones out at the same table is douchey. That’s our rule and I think it’s a pretty good rule.
Recently, we were out to dinner and sat across from 3 women in their mid-20s. Throughout their meal, one of them had her head buried in her phone 90% of the time. I couldn’t see what she was doing or reading. Maybe she was texting, checking Facebook, or writing haikus to her cat, who knows? Whatever it was, it was way more interesting than the two friends she was sharing a meal with.
Occasionally, she would poke her head up and chime in on the conversation and then put her head immediately back down to find out what she was missing out on on her phone. The other two had their phones out the entire time but were slightly more engaged; going back and forth about what hashtags they should use in their posts, taking pictures of every plate of food that was served. The word “epic” was used a lot.
I’m not singling these women out. Go into any restaurant, coffee shop, or bar and find a group of two or more people and count how many of them have their phones out and are doing something on them. It’s a mainstay in our culture. The internet is so awesome. I don’t want to miss out on something because I turned away for a second to talk to some silly human.
Our constant connectivity has made us disconnected from our own lives. How many times have you been out with friends or family and have had nothing to talk about because you’ve read all of each others Facebook updates? We miss out on real experiences all the time because we’re too preoccupied with a tiny screen instead of taking in the 360 degree view all around us.
Do we all have that short of an attention span that we can’t exist in our own lives for an hour without checking in to see what’s happening in a virtual world? The status update is just a dressed up way of saying, “Hey look at all these cool things I’m doing. Aren’t you jealous of how awesome my life is?” Except, how much of that experience can that person be enjoying if they’re on their phone the entire time? How about we put the phone away and eat our food while it’s still warm?
So, I propose to you a challenge. The next time you are out to dinner with two or more other people I want you to do this: Everyone places their phone face up in the middle of the table. The first person to pick up their phone before the check comes pays the bill. You’ll be surprised to find how addicted we all are.