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I am a serious tech guy and don’t mind people using gadgets all over the place but I as annoyed to the point of severe irritation while eating at Olive Garden with my family the other day and someone sitting next to us dining alone was having a 25 minute long conversation on the cell phone that was so loud everyone within a 10 table radius can hear him clear as a bell.
In surveying Olive Garden at around 5:00pm I saw no less than 4 people were on cell phones at the same time talking, some were with their families and still talking on phones. Others still were playing with their android smartphones or iPhones, texting all while sitting next to a family member and they silently ignored each other.
People, you need to engage and interact with the person you are eating with. If you are dining alone, text it up, chat it up (quietly), surf, read news…whatever. But I feel that if you are dining with your family then you should be talking with them and this is especially true if you have kids. It was a wake up call for me a few months ago when I took my kids to the playground and my son got annoyed with me that I checked my work emails while on the weekend at the playground with him. He told me point blank, you are supposed to be at the playground playing with us.
He was right, darn right and at 7 years old I realized that kids are feeling "ignored" by parents that are too busy texting, talking or reading their phones than to have good old fashioned conversation with them. I make a clear and conscious choice now to not read emails, text, and I don’t check in on FourSquare anymore or send Facebook texts for the last several months when I go out with my family.
While I am sitting with my kids or wife, I make sure I engage them and the only time I answer my phone is when a work phone call or page comes in that can’t be ignored. If it is a phone call I will often excuse myself to not disturb other restaurant patrons and step outside or into the restroom to talk.
Use some manners, engage in conversation with those who you are with. Technology is great, but the social communication with those you are spending time with is far more important.