A couple of weeks ago, I went to a local diner for breakfast. We sat up at the counter, and next to us were a young man (early 20s) and his father. A charming picture, except for one thing: The entire time, the son was glued to his phone. Didn’t say a word that I could tell to his father, who ended up chatting off and on with the cook and wait staff. Then the check came, and the father took out his wallet and paid the bill.
What’s he paying for? Clearly not the pleasure of his son’s company!
First of all, yes, this brings to mind the conventional wisdom of “appreciate your loved ones because you never know how much time you’ll have with them”. But what really struck me about the whole thing was just how rude it was! This guy’s father could’ve taken him to McDonald’s drive-thru or gotten a bag of donuts at the Wawa next door.
But, no. He took him to this diner, presumably to spend time with him. But instead of appreciating the gesture, the son couldn’t be bothered to speak to him, much less thank the waitress when his food came or his coffee was refilled.
I don’t know. I’m old and a bit crotchety these days.
But this scene I’m describing is just not cool. It’s also, sadly, not unusual. And it’s not just with “kids these days”. In my single days, I went on dates with grown men who wouldn’t put their phone away. (Check, please!) And there are the grocery store clerks who can’t so much as ask “Paper or plastic?” because the customers won’t put their phones down. Or the pedestrian who steps in front of your moving car because they were distracted by something on their phone.
So this is my point.
It’s time to learn when to put our phones down. We should be teaching this to our children and enforcing it in our board rooms. Not just for personal well-being, though that’s important too. But it’s also a matter of common courtesy and basic respect for the people we love, or work with, or encounter just briefly at a cash register.
Eh. Like I said, I’m old.
Liz Ruppert is a website content strategist in the Washington, D.C. area. As a technology generation spanner, she spent many years trying to fit into the uber plugged-in world. Several anxiety attacks later, she has struck a balance between part-time web consulting work and spending time with her labradoodle, Busby Burkley; her tabby cat, Cleo; and her husband, Sweetheart.