Using mobile phones while dining…

What is happening with people not talking today? I’m sitting at a cafe (a different one) and a couple come in and sit down at the table across from me. He seems bored with the experience, yet compliant to be there. She seems rather excited to be with this man having breakfast with him. Even though my vision is limited, I observe shapes, colours and movements. My “spider senses” (as a friend affectionately calls my heightened sense of intuition), are always on alert. No sooner have they sat down, having already ordered at the counter, than she whips the mobile phone out and starts scrolling or texting. He looks around the room at others, communication, nil.

This goes on for some minutes. He is clearly struggling to maintain his sense of connection with this woman he has an obvious relationship with. After the coffees arrive, they each take a sip, speak a few phrases to each other, and the woman locks back onto her phone. The man starts looking at the waitresses as they go about their business of serving customers. They both continue casually sipping their coffees distractedly. He is clearly drowning from lack of attention.

Now, this scenario is taking place at a local café, during the week around mid-morning. The man is dressed in business shirt and pressed trousers, leather shoes. The woman is in a short casual dress and slip-on sandals. She has dressed for casualness, whereas he has come from work. What could possibly have brought him out of his work environment to have breakfast with this woman? Are they married? A couple that is newly establishing their relationship? Either way, communication is necessary when you share a meal together at a dining venue. Isn’t that the purpose of “going out for breakfast,” to get to know one another? Hardly a recipe for a successful and long-lasting relationship if the conversation is stilted or just plain non-existent.

Even after the food arrives, the phone is continued to be fondled between mouthfuls of food. He eats quickly, probably hoping that by finishing his meal, he can escape back to the sanctuary of his work environment. He makes attempts to draw his female companion into conversation, and she dodges his verbal parries with a few words while looking sideways at the cherished phone.

I finished my delicious meal and got up to leave. I glanced over at the couple and the man looked pained at having to continue to sit courteously while his companion finished her meal at leisure.

Is this normal behaviour when people get together to share a meal or have a catch-up over coffee? I know I have attended to my phone while out with friends or clients. I felt it was necessary, and many times it was. At other times, it was a way to be distracted from an unpleasant or droll conversation. I was too uncomfortable and insecure, as well as impolite to end the communication and leave. Or maybe, I could have attempted to improve the conversation. Instead, I was selfish. I used my phone as an excuse to not communicate. I have no idea what was going on inside my head that I stayed sitting, where I could have just as easily left. Maybe, this woman felt the same way.

After observing this display, I will certainly be more attentive while out with friends. Or I will leave. Being rude by ignoring the other person is unacceptable. This was a good wake-up call for me. Has this ever happened to you? Have you had a friend, significant other or work associate ignore you in favour of their phone? Have you been the one that has shown disregard for the feelings of another while out dining? What are your thoughts on this topic? I would love to hear your views.

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