Thursday, February 21
Electronics at the Dinner Table
My friend @FamilyFoodie is an amazing food blogger ... I love her premise that #SundaySupper is a chance for the family to unite and bond and discuss. I thought of her multiple times throughout the day this past Sunday as I had a few #SundaySupper moments of my own.
First of all, we went out to lunch on Sunday which is something I don't normally do. I'm not a "brunch" person and I kind of like eating lunch at home. But we were running around and didn't have a lot of time, so we popped into a chain restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat. It was actually pretty good and it was nice to sit together and talk for a few minutes. As soon as we sat down, though, I noticed an electronic device sitting at the table that was just screaming to be picked up.
It was from a company called "Ziosk" and it was a gaming device that you could play while sitting at the table. Sure you could order appetizers and desserts, but you could also order games and music and tool around for awhile while waiting for your food. I remember instantly thinking that this would have been great when my kids were young. I thought nothing more as we finished our lunch and actually paid our bill on the Ziosk. Didn't even have to interact with the server all that much.
Later on in the day we made plans to go out for #SundaySupper at one of our favorite Italian places in town for our traditional Sunday night spaghetti and meatballs dinner. This wasn't our typical place made infamous in my first book, but another restaurant that we like a lot. The pasta is amazing.
I couldn't help but notice the family that sat down next to us shortly after we arrived. A Mom and a Dad and then another Mom with their combined four kids. Every one of them had an electronic device in their hands except for one of the Moms. I'm talking laptops that they plugged into the wall, iPads, smartphones, gaming devices ... it was a buffet. And there was much ado about these devices getting charged and making sure that they all had their thing to keep them occupied while at the restaurant.
They barely looked or talked to each other the entire time. Dad was checking his emails and all the others were engrossed in their electronics, with various levels of intensity from almost screaming to barely having a pulse. They took no time to talk to the server to basically even order their food, let alone talk to each other. The one Mom without anything in her hand might as well have been eating alone. Actually she was eating alone.
I instantly thought back to my lunch ... feeling grateful that we didn't have a Ziosk when my kids were young and feeling a bit guilty that we hadn't chatted with our waitress more. And feeling very fortunate that years ago we instituted a "no electronics" policy at the dinner table (or lunch table for that matter). It was quite an eye opening #SundaySupper.
What's your experience? Jim.
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU