Doesn't that photo look quaint? It was taken in 1958 and I love how the people are crowded around the ONE television in the room.
Now, we have quite a few screens around us and I like to make a point of turning them off when my family sits down to eat. My dinner table is a SCREEN FREE zone and I realize that although I hated that rule as a child, as an adult, it is a key to my daily sanity.
What happens when you can't control the environment around your dinner table?
My family enjoys going out to dinner for a variety of reasons. My daughter likes to try new food. Her younger brother enjoys ordering macaroni and cheese at different establishments.
I love going out to eat because I don’t have to do the dishes, and my husband likes to make me happy by agreeing to a meal out.
We don’t go very often because it can get expensive and the food tends to be...well....heavy.
On a recent weekend trip to New York City, we were all excited to try new restaurants (hey, we have to go out, right?) and I was enjoying quality time with the people that I love the most.
What happened next can be only described as disturbing. As we were seated at our table in a Dim Sum restaurant in Chinatown, we all looked up from our plates and saw not ONE not TWO but THREE large screens with talking heads.
They were looking down at us! I found myself eating my dumplings and looking at Newt Gingrich (which probably saved me some calories as he is not appetizing to look at).
My daughter, who can read, started asking about a story with a 9 year old girl who had been killed.
“What happened to that girl, Mommy?”
“Nothing that would happen to you, honey”
“But, what happened to her?”
The truth was too upsetting to relate (the story said she had been “run to death by her mother”) so I said, “Sometimes bad things happen to children, but we keep you safe.”
What was going on here? Our family meal (time together sharing) - was being HIJACKED by large screens.
All of us were being distracted. My husband noted, “Hey, Apple stock has gone up again.” My son saw a cartoon that he likes, “Mom, there’s SpongeBob!’ and I was transfixed by President Obama.
What happened to being in the moment, looking at each other, telling bad knock-knock jokes or taking in the atmosphere of Chinatown and discussing different cultures?
I doubt I even tasted my food!
I wish this was an isolated incident in New York, but the other two meals we had were also dominated by screens. Because these flat screen TVs have become so inexpensive, I believe that restaurants put them everywhere to help us keep tuned in.
But, I want to tune out! I spend way too much time being tuned in to all that is going on. Sometimes I just want to be with the people who are sitting in front of me.
My proposed solution is to ask the restaurant manager to turn off the screen that is pointed at me or just frequent the dwindling number of establishments without them.
A meal with my family is too sacred to spend attracted to anyone or anything but their beautiful faces.
How do you handle screens and meal time?
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