Social media is present in nearly all aspects of our lives. It becomes our companion to all our social gatherings, the method to storing great memories and the way to keep up with the trends. #spoonfeed anyone? But perhaps most offensively, social media also follows us to the dining table. And that, my friends, is something we need to seriously reconsider.
Personally, I’ve experienced far too many times where I was bluntly told by my boyfriend “Why are you always on your phone?” when at a restaurant. Initially, I defended myself by saying “I’m really busy, I need to check my emails…I like to know what’s happening…Tumblr, you know Tumblr, always getting those exciting notifications…” but in reality, I probably spent more of my time scrolling furiously through Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr than reading important emails. Which goes to show my own mismatched order of priorities. In comparison, whenever I would eat out with my friends, if one person pulled out her phone, I would follow suit—partially glad that she had initiated the mildly taboo thing to do.
We all know that taboo is there, because let’s be real: It’s rude, and it’s senseless, even if it’s becoming the social norm.
Why do we invest so much time into informing a vague, general audience of really not too interesting news (like “Fiiiiinally trying out the new ice cream flavor at Ben&Jerry’s! #b&j #lifeiscomplete), when there’s a living, breathing, complex human being or beings to interact with right in front of you? We love our friends and social world, but that network exists in front of you too, not only in your phone.
Your other friends won’t hate you for waiting to update your Facebook or Insta on what you’re eating for lunch until after you ate it. And Twitter will not upend your raging popularity should you—like, how dare you—bypass the chance to tweet yet again how you’re excited about reuniting with your friends in two months. The social media world doesn’t care if your food is cooling, if the other person is waiting for you to detach yourself.
Instead of prioritizing your social media persona, what about prioritizing a reality where care and love is not expressed through likes and favorites?
Social media is not evil. Just like everything else, how we decide to utilize it determines whether it’s “good” or “bad” for us. Frankly, I think we all should gradually learn to unplug ourselves from this intensely small, overwhelming, fast-paced media world.That way when we do meet face-to-face with friends and develop relationships that feel authentic and rich, we are momentarily reminded how worthwhile it is to be away from the phone and too many people who don’t care that much about your life.
In the meantime, a good place to start is at the dining table, because that’s perhaps the best opportunity for anyone—especially busy college students constantly on a schedule—to realize how relationships develop and grow. There’s always the bigger picture to consider, but why not begin by setting your phone aside when you’re about to eat, engage in a real conversation and forget about your phone until the meal is over?