Summer is here! Hot days, warm nights, and plenty of social activity. Students young and old are out of school, the sun stays out longer, and businesses add later hours to accommodate the weather.
Almost everyone I talk to has a similar shared experience — eating in a social environment during the summer. Warm nights on a patio with a bottle of wine, big dinners at home, BBQ’s in the park, roasting marshmallows around a campfire, having a Solstice party, or going to a nice restaurant with your family – almost all of us experience a few (if not all) of these gatherings each summer.
All of these experiences center around social interaction and food for the most part. When I think about being social in the summer, I think of where I was born – a small mountain town in Northern California. Summers there consisted of brunch at my favorite Cajun restaurant, river parties (day and night), and talking with my friends over a grill of some kind.
Being able to stay present in moments like those can be challenging in today’s day and age. Most of us have smartphones nowadays. (I didn’t want to say “all of us,” because if I did, I know someone who still uses that Nokia brick phone would have to remind me that not everyone needs a smartphone.) And, often enough the social events that we go to wouldn’t happen WITHOUT a smartphone – not to mention the people who would get lost en route without a GPS to hold their hand. But, once we are AT our social engagements, do the phones go away? We all know they don’t. How can we stay present in these amazing moments when we are tweeting?
This seems to be one of the greatest insignificant struggles of our time. You see it everywhere. We all do it (even the brick phone Luddites). People out at a bar, sitting at dinner, standing around a bonfire – phones out and screens open. You even see two friends standing in line for coffee, not speaking to each other, just looking at their phones.
What are we all doing with our phones out when we are with other people? Most often, checking our SOCIAL MEDIA. DOES THIS NOT SEEM INSANE?! We are already BEING SOCIAL, and yet we are driven somehow to look at a little glass box in our hand that shows us what our friends did earlier or are doing currently. Why? We are already doing the thing that people are looking at on their phones of us doing.
More important than being a rude friend at the bar, having your phone out around your family and children over dinner is another issue. Most families have so much to balance (work, school, extra-curricular activities) that dinner is often the only time the entire family can be together in the same room. That time to connect with your children is invaluable and spending it on your phone not only stops you from being an attentive parent, but it can also give your children the impression that you don’t care to pay attention to them. Dinner is a great time to talk and share the stories from your day!
I am no phone-free saint over dinner either. As I said, it’s something we all struggle with. Rachel and I like to play a little game with our friends when we go out to try to cut down on the amount of phone-time we spend when we are around each other. Once we get all settled in and get through the formalities (apps ordered, drinks procured, hello’s said), we all agree to place our phones screen side down on silent mode in the middle of the table. The first person to reach for their phone has to buy a round of drinks or dessert for the table! It is a fun way of cutting down on distractions when you are out with friends or family.
I’ve made a printable version of the “phones on the table” game, so you print one out and bring it to your next social gathering! Yes, you will probably look silly whipping this piece of paper out, but you will hopefully get the message across. If we can all be a little more present during the important friend and family gathers, we will all be a little better for it.
I’d love to continue talking about this with you (along with tons of other awesome topics) in our Facebook Group/Therapeutic Online Community! Are you a member? You can click here to access it or to request access (it’s a private group).MY PHONE IS ON THE TABLE AT DINNER, WHAT ABOUT YOU? #phonegamechallenge Click To Tweet