Sitting in a restaurant the other day, there were two little girls watching a movie on their iPad. They were laughing, carrying on and screaming at the scary parts. The patrons at the other tables were visibly irritated by the noise, yet the parents of the girls did nothing to quiet them. On the contrary, they promoted their behavior. After all, the parents are the ones who gave them the iPad to begin with.
Most people go out to enjoy a dinner and a nice conversation. It is a special occasion for them. They don’t go out to listen to movies being played on an iPad or the screams of children who are watching it.
Instead of teaching children manners, they are handed a gadget to babysit them with. They are no longer taught how to sit quietly in public areas or how to have respect for others who are nearby. They are no longer disciplined. They are only subdued, with the help of a gadget.
We often read articles on how adults sit across from each other without having conversations, because they are both on their phones. Where did social interaction go? Why go to a restaurant if you’re not going to pay attention to the others at your table? Wouldn’t it be easier to just stay home?
As a child, our dinners out were very special. With excitement, we would all rush to get ready and then out the door we’d go. Arriving at the restaurant, we would quietly arrange our seating to fit our family size. Then, we’d open our menus and scan it for the meal of our choice. Afterward, we would talk to each other. Face to face, with eye contact. We would laugh at each others jokes and pick on one another, respectfully. It was also the ideal time to discuss our day and our plans for the future.
This was all done quietly, within the range of our table. We didn’t shout across the restaurant or laugh so loudly that people across the room could hear us. Most importantly, we held no gadgets in our hands to distract us from each other. We also didn’t need a movie to entertain us. That’s what we had each other for. The people at our table were our entertainment. We simply enjoyed each others company. That’s what dinners out were for. It was family time, not gadget time.
Without natural entertainment, people are missing out on so much. They no longer know how to interact with each other. Conversation starters are now “Look at what my phone can do”, instead of “How was your day?”. Gadgets are excellent tools, designed to make our lives easier and more convenient. There is also an appropriate time and place to use them. Social gatherings should not be one of them.
Our real life relationships are much more important than our battery operated gadget. Both will eventually die, but one can never be replaced.