Opinion

Put your phone away at the dinner table. Parents, that means you too!

Nothing annoys Jennifer Platt more than a person's eyes straying to their phone while she's telling a perfectly entertaining anecdote

27 January 2019 - 00:00 By Jennifer Platt
People paying more attention to their phones than you can leave you feeling lost and betrayed.
People paying more attention to their phones than you can leave you feeling lost and betrayed.
Image: 123RF/Jrcasas

The evening starts off pleasantly enough with me asking my guests, politely, to please put away all phones and tablets. Then someone slips out their device, and one by one my dinner companions take out their phones to have a quick glance - just to make sure they are not missing out on whatever is happening out there.

It soon turns into a frenzy of typing and snickering. Or worse, someone playing a video at top volume. And then sharing it, one by one, with everyone at the table. By the time it comes to me to have a look, I just know it's not going to be that funny.

Yes, I am one of those people who believes that, at a dinner table, phones should be left in pockets and in bags - put away so that those distracting flashing screens, those vexing bleeps and burbs, are not seen or heard.

Sometimes drastic measures are needed. Like a hissy fit, turning off the Wi-Fi or turning the addicted person's cellphone screen to grey in order to stop them looking at their device every few minutes - sometimes every few seconds - checking their messages on their WhatsApp groups. (Apparently changing the colour of the screen does work, according a video on The Atlantic - see below.)

WATCH | Turn your screen grey to break a phone addiction

Nothing annoys me more than a person's eyes straying to their phone in the middle of what I think is a perfectly entertaining anecdote. You can see it slowly happening: first the glance and then the quick grab, and there I am, mid-sentence, talking to no-one while they are replying to someone not in the room.

My voice tapers off. I feel lost. Betrayed. I feel like my conversational skills are lacking and that my life is boring to my beloved dinner companions. I feel unloved.

There I am, just an ordinary woman sitting in front of my parents, asking them to put away their phones so they can listen to me.


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