A few weekends ago, my dad took me out to dinner in Sacramento. Across the room I saw a couple that appeared to be on a Saturday night date but at some point I think they had forgotten about each other. In a span of forty five minutes, the couple had only one short verbal interaction. The rest of their time was spent with their Blackberrys positioned directly in front of them.
This was not the first time I had seen an interaction like this. Across the country families, friends, and dates alike suffer from phone obsessions at the dinner table. Even as my dad and I enjoyed our meal, we played with his iPhone as I showed him how to use new apps. Technology at the dinner table has become a true problem in society. Silence during dinner with friends is more common as they take a quick minute to reply to texts. The effort of a family dinner is in constant disruption when the kids are distracted by Facebook.
The problem has grown so large that Ingrid Zweifel has designed a “Phonekerchief.” This modified handkerchief has special metal threads weaved in to block out wireless connection and cell reception. The easy solution is to just turn your “Crackberry” or “iTeat” off but the idea of the Phonekerchief is the statement made when you place your phone inside. Soon, we may be seeing formal place settings with Phonkerchiefs included for everyone to see that your phone is off so that you are an active member of the dinner conversation.
This is just a small clever technique for a giant problem growing in our country. Most of my meals are spent conversing with my family and friends and I intend to keep them that way. I enjoy the time spent away from my computer and phone and I can only hope that my generation will eventually feel encouraged to disconnect as well.