When I'm eating in or dining out with friends, someone inevitably pulls out his cellphone to take a picture, send a text, or Google some trivia brought up by the group. (That someone is sometimes me.) When it comes to table manners in our socially connected world, has cellphone usage become acceptable?
It's not uncommon — and even amusing — to see an entire family at a table together, their heads buried in the bright glow of their smartphone screens. I often wonder how we ever survived without our phones to begin with. What's changed in recent years to make us worry about checking every beep and buzz as it comes in, rather than simply savoring a meal and enjoying uninterrupted conversation in person?
A Los Angeles Times article examines this new wave of tech-obsessed diners and how it's affected the traditional sit-down experience.
Much like those ubiquitous previews telling moviegoers to turn off their cellphones, some restaurants have a no-phone or vibrate-only policy so their patrons may dine in peace. Meanwhile, other restaurants embrace the evolution and cater to their customers' busy lives by providing plates to shield their phones from crumbs and spills, and keeping a supply of smartphone chargers on hand for customers to borrow.
Even further, many restaurants encourage social media interaction by offering incentives for cellphone check-ins and reviews on the spot. Before your water even arrives, a quick thumb through Yelp will tell you the signature dishes to order and whether your waiter is worth the extra tip. It all feeds our need for speed and convenience.
What side of the spectrum do you lean on? Are you the type to keep your phone face-up on the table at all times, or do you put it away to enjoy face time (not "Face Time") with your friends?
Read More: When Diner's Eyes Feast on Their Cellphones at Los Angeles Times