I was listening to Gala Darling's Love & Sequins no. 4 podcast on manners and etiquette the other day, and it made me start thinking a lot about the use of our smart phones at the dinner table. I would like to think that I am polite enough not to be guilty of this, but then I realised that I am guilty of using my Blackberry in some situations at the table. That got me thinking about the role of smart phones in todays totally wired society; we use our phones to email, call, text, bbm, browse the web, tweet, update our blogs, take phones and depending on the model of your phone, for example in Pizza Express there is now an app you can use to pay your bill.
When I am eating a meal at home, or out for a meal with my family I would never use my phone, both because I know it is impolite and because I know my Dad absolutely can't stand it. The only exception to this is when one of us is expecting an important call, but as soon as that call has been taken (away from the table) all phones are switched off.
When I am out for a meal with a friend I let the same rules apply, though thinking about it, when I am out for tea or a meal with one of my two best friends, we both use our Blackberry's throughout the meal, but I don't think it affects conversation. I think it is because we know each other so well and it is almost a much more relaxed environment than with other friends we don't seem to see it as a problem. However, with large groups of friends or friends I'm not as in sync with I love Gala's suggestion in the podcast of having a no phones at a meal rule with groups of friends at least until the bill arrives. The photo at the top of this post was taken by my mother at my 18th Birthday dinner. Enough said about my friends and I...
One situation I can think of, however, if you're in a group and it is not just the two of you having tea or a meal where I think it is acceptable to be using your smartphone, is if you are out with other bloggers or other such internet type people. I think if you are in a group where everyone has the mindset where it is considered completely normal to be always plugged in to the point where what is happening on your handsets becomes a part of the conversation you're having, as long as you don't have the thing surgically grafted to you it is okay to be occasionally using it. Not having whole conversations with people though, I'm talking about occasionally Tweeting and reading any email that comes in, saving them to reply to later.
Are you guilty of using your phone at the table? What situations (if any) do you think it is okay to be using your phone during a meal?