Recently, the above image stirred the center of a debate. In a private, forty-something Facebook group two questions, concerning this image surfaced. The scenario: A man goes all out to impress a woman by selecting a [5 diamond] restaurant and offers the woman to order her grandest desires from the menu. She obliges and selects the filet mignon and lobster valued at one-hundred and thirty dollars just for the entree. The meal comes and she spends [their] her entire time on her cell phone texting, posting and replying to facebook posts. Questions: 1) What should a man do in this situation? 2) As an older woman what advice would you give her?
I'm sure you're wondering why this is a post and not just some random response on facebook. Instead I thought a blog post to better convey a number of major issues which speak to the heart of human socialization as technology globally propels one toward the future.
Several easy answers, including my input, advised fellas to end the date, turn down the phone and/or request that she put her phone down and to become present. Because my answer was the latter, I also furthered my thought by advising the guy to end the date however he so chose once his request for her presence was denied.
However, what I believe is being over-looked is basic socialization regardless of age, gender or price of the meal. Technology not only can provide immediate access to invaluable information, technology is at the core of our entertainment. When we fail to plug into the energy around us, the first thing we do is grab our devices. On the other side of the sword, technology also leads us toward debilitating vulnerability. We are never unreachable. Ever.
Let's walk through several components. When you know better you do better. Maybe the young woman in the image doesn't know any better. My thoughts about this scenario are vastly different today from what they would have been in my twenties. My point? We have to be willing to teach and practice connection despite technological advances. Maybe she's sending him a clear cut message about her agenda and/or desire to be on the date. This by the way, opens another entire can of worms. We must teach and reach because sometimes you don't know, until you know.
Remember when the young man had to get out of his car and ring the doorbell before you were released to go on a date. And if he remained in the car with the car running and just blew his horn, the date was over before it started? You might not remember that but boy oh boy I do. My friend shared the story of a young man, picking her up for a date only to remain in his car and blow his horn several times. When he finally got the hint, parked and rang the doorbell, he was greeted with a shotgun, cocked in his face and a burly father figure exclaiming, "How may I help you?" The young man never sat in his car and blew his horn again. In fact future dates included a greeting and small bouquet of flowers for the Mom. Now I don't recommend a shotgun but if it works...
I have a friend whose phone is an appendage growing from her hip. I wonder when she makes love to her husband, if she rolls over in between sessions to check likes on facebook of her latest posts. When we're hanging, she is consistently on her phone. It's annoying and my sighs or sucking my teeth doesn't alter her behavior one bit. On the flip side, when I urgently need her, I can get to her immediately. I certainly don't complain then.
Back to the image. The man should politely re-engage the young woman and ask that she refrain from engaging in non-urgent interaction on her phone. Explain that he would like to get to know her and her him. This request is born not because of the price of the meal, the fancy restaurant--although most 5 diamond/star restaurants don't allow cell phones at the table--but the attempt to connect and put forth the best effort I know how. His communication should explain that this moment you matter. I want to matter also. If she disregards that reasoning, she's not the date for you and you should allow her to continue her date with facebook, perhaps on her own dime. Much like Florida relieved Rudy Guiliani of his duties to 'spend more time with 911' during the 2008 GOP nomination.
As far as advice I'd give to her about the situation, simple. Be present and gracious. If you don't want to dine with this man, don't. But don't use him either. As for the second question to the man, this older woman would advise, place your value in the core of your connection not the fancy restaurant and don't allow yourself to be used.
I would love to hear your take on texting while dining.
This is Toni Staton Harris, checkin' up and checkin' on how do you socialize?