The Age of Distraction

Written by Justin posted on Feb 8, 2013 in Opinion, Rant

About a month or so ago, Dawn and I were out for dinner at DMK Burger Bar. If you’ve never been, it’s got a city vibe where the tunes are loud, the beer is craft, and you can basically eat off of your neighbors plate. After many years of city dining, I really have no issue with the close table proximity. Seated next to us was a young-ish couple. Early-mid twenties, sitting across from each other at a 2 top. Judging, this appeared to be a first date.

One behavior completely stunned the both of us. The woman checked/texted/facebook’d her phone CONTINUOUSLY throughout their meal.  She would pick up her phone, check it/respond. Then place it back in the middle of the table. Rinse and repeat. The sheer nerve and lack of respect to not only constantly check the phone, but to place it on the table. Baiting for a reason to distract herself from the present company. It pained me on the inside to witness. In fact, it angered me.  So many thoughts ran through my head. If this is how she is on a date, imagine what she fills up her free time with. That poor dude she is with, if I were him, I’d get up and stiff her with the check and no ride home. If I were to pick up her phone and toss it in the john, could I get arrested?

This instance was the first straw on the camels back. The one that broke it happened a couple weeks later, again out to dinner. A man and presumably his family, 5 or so people, are out to dinner. This man, felt the need to bring his iPad into the restaurant and use it constantly at the dinner table. The ignorance and disrespect to everyone around him was really quite a site. What in the world could be so important that you have to bring a tablet into a restaurant and constantly use it. Is your family that much of a drag? Are you Donald Trump? Is your wife going into labor and the only way to get ahold of you is via email?  I fucking doubt it.

This is nothing new though. I am far from oblivious to the fact cellphones and other devices have become embraced parasites of our free mind. Nor am I claiming to be a purist who does not suffer from the same afflictions. I see it being abused every day. It’s everywhere we turn and it is only becoming more prevalent.

As much as I may try in my head, I can’t control how the person next to me chooses to spend their time. What I am worried about though, is the impression these actions leave on our children. If I have learned one lesson so far in 6 years as a parent, it’s children learn by example. True, thoughts like those never cross the mind of a young twenty year old girl on a date. But how about the middle-aged father out to dinner with his family. Stepping on a whole slew of morals in his race to be up to date on the latest Groupon offering. We have to be better than this.

I fully admin it, I’ve caught myself many times opening up the phone to make a quick play in Words or check Instagram. All at the cost of listening/watching/admiring my boys. Times which I fully recognize will grow more scarce as days go by.

If I show them that’s the way to be a father, then I have failed.

As a family we have taken a few steps to try and curb these bad habits. We put down all the devices before coming to the dinner table. The key is putting it down out of reach, and if you can out of site.  Leave it in your pocket and the convenience is just too easy. Another step I have taken is when I get home from work, I’ll go put my phone upstairs. It makes it virtually unaccessible, and I devote those last couple of hours of the night to those that matter most. Not what my latest emails are.

There’s no greater respect given to the people around you than by giving them your undivided attention.

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