When my husband comes home from work and asks if I want to go out for dinner, there is only one possible answer:
So we get in the car and head to a restaurant. Nothing too fancy. Maybe that new place we’ve been meaning to check out. Or our favorite Mexican place… I am looking forward to a nice evening, just the two of us, relaxing, eating good food, and enjoying each other’s company.
We are seated almost immediately. A cozy table for two. Life is good.
I open the menu. Awfully small print. I hold it at arm’s length and tilt toward the single candle filling the table with its warm glow. Ambiance is a wonderful thing, until you need to read a menu with over-40 eyes. I pull my reading glasses from my purse and try again. Hmm, so many choices.
“What are you having, dear?” I ask.
I glance at my husband. He is not looking at the menu. He is staring into space somewhere above my head. I look behind me, wondering what strange creature has captivated my husband’s attention. . . .
Why do restaurants think we want to watch television instead of having meaningful conversations with our dining companions?
I scan the room, counting four more screens, angled for optimum viewing from any table. How am I supposed to compete for my husband’s attention against the soccer game playing above my head? (Did I mention the World Cup is approaching?)
Grumbling, I turn back to the menu, but before I get to the bottom of the page I find my eyes straying to the screen on my left. A documentary on tornadoes. Yikes! How did a car ever end up there?
“Lisa? Did you hear me?”
I drag my eyes from the big screen.
So much for a pleasant dinner filled with intimate, uninterrupted conversation. Maybe we should have just stayed home.
Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by electronic devices vying for our attention: phones that buzz with every text and email, laptops bristling with status updates and news feeds, earbuds or bluetooths (or is that blueteeth?) affixed to our ears, and yes, televisions playing while we eat.
My poor brain needs a break.
Some people call it information overload, but I think it’s more of an information addiction.
Maybe we ought to ask ourselves if we REALLY need to read that text in the middle of a lunchtime conversation.
Or answer that email in the middle of a meeting.
Or check facebook while chatting with a son who cared enough to call home while at college.
Or watch the game while we eat dinner with the family.
Or … you get the idea.
How easy it is to become addicted to all those gadgets! To feel empowered by smart phones that give us instant, unlimited access to any bit of data we might suddenly want. To crave a never-ending stream of images and music and words to keep our mind occupied and entertained. Because if it stopped, we might have to look someone in the eye and actually converse.
I wonder, has all that input make us better, or has it blinded us to what really matters? Has it empowered us or imprisoned us?
Maybe it’s time to buck the system, leave the gadgets at home and find a restaurant that doesn’t have television screens in every corner. (Yes, they still exist.) Instead of surfing, spend an hour or two talking. About something deeper than the funny meme a friend posted or that YouTube video about … whatever. Do you still remember how to do it?
Maybe it’s time to “Just Say No” to information addiction. Or start a chapter of Mothers Against Device Dependency.
What about you? Do you find it difficult to find time in your info-filled life to talk to real people, face-to-face, with no electronic distractions? If so, why not fight back?
How will you regain sanity over your gadgets?
PS. If you’re planning to open a restaurant, do us all a favor and skip the televisions!