Are Smartphones, iPads, and Laptops Ruining Restaurants?
The short attention span and constant need for stimuli resulting from advanced technologies are stealing the real and potentially meaningful moments from so many lives. Times change; I know that. The two- to three-hour social or business lunch is a distant memory. The three- to four-hour dinners with multiple wines (bottles, not glasses), multiple courses (with time in-between), and clever, complex conversations are all but dead. Everything is faster and if it isn’t, people complain. This doesn’t hurt our business. In fact it helps it helps: faster turns, more sales per table.
However, for many chefs and restaurateurs, the motivation to serve others, to add something special to their lives, far exceeds the yearning for money. So it doesn’t hurt my business, but it hurts my soul. It is disheartening to see guests focused on their Facebook “friends” when I put a perfect grilled lobster or tasty plate of fried chicken in front of them. I want to see them smiling with joy. I want to hear laughter, not all the weird tones that phones make. I want parents to share meals with their kids and teach them about different foods. Electronic devices are sucking the vibrancy out of our dining rooms. Dining is being replaced by eating. Fast food behaviors and its low vibrations are creeping into to higher forms of dining.
I’m sorry for those who don’t know the difference between dining and eating. I understand that things have changed and I am okay with the shortened versions of lunch and dinner, but doesn’t that make the breaking of bread with friends and loved ones even more precious? I don’t understand why it has become acceptable to ignore the people that you are dining with, why emails and messages are treated with such urgency, and why kids need to play games and watch videos during dinner. I probably sound like the 60-year-old that I am. I understand that there is nothing that I, as a chef and owner, or anyone else in our industry can do to turn back the tide that is washing away social etiquette. I find it all to be very sad. I hope that some miracle will bring a higher consciousness to the people we serve and allow us to continue to give them a respite from all the nonsense that they deal with every day.
Nothing is more important than being fully present for dinner with loved ones, family, and friends.