Soften Saturday: Dinner Unplugged

This week I went out to dinner to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday at a hibachi restaurant.  You know the kind?  There’s a hot grill in the middle of the table, a chef with impressive knife skills slicing and dicing food, flipping shrimp onto your plate or into your mouth?  It’s always entertaining and great fun with friends.

After we had our dinner and the chef-provided show, we were bundling up for the cold walk to our cars.  My friend looked at the neighboring table and said, “Look at them, they are all on their phones.  No one talks to each other anymore!”  Every person at the table was texting or updating their Facebook status or tweeting or…well, they were doing everything but enjoying the company of the people who they came with to dinner.  They weren’t using their phones to take pictures of each other, they were using their phones to avoid each other!  All of this as the chef busied himself preparing to cook their meal.  Not only were they missing out on the company of their fellow diners, they were missing out on watching the chef.  Isn’t that part of the reason for eating at a hibachi restaurant?

To be honest, I am guilty of this as well.  I often catch myself working, returning a quick e-mail to a client or sharing a photo on Instagram instead of chatting with the folks across the table from me.  I even deleted some social media apps from my phone so I have fewer options to distract me from what is really important.  But I still get sucked in…

Enter the Phone Bowl.   We now have an empty bowl joining us for dinner every night.  It holds our phones while we eat.  No texting, no “quick” emails, no Instagramming photos of dinner until after dinner.  It’s Dinner Unplugged.  While I don’t expect restaurants to place empty bowls atop their tables, I do hope we can consider doing this  when dining out, too.  Will you join me in placing an empty bowl on your table this week?

phone bowl



  1. says

    I remain grateful that I do not have a smartphone. Folks keep telling me to get one, but I am plenty plugged in without it. When we go out, the phone is never a distraction, but I’ve seen the constant phone monitoring among others and I suspect I’d be right there–or more there than I’d like to admit to myself–if I had one. So my answer for now is no smart phone. Kudos to you for coming up with a workable solution!


    • says

      I admire that you have avoided a smartphone! I’ve been pondering reverting to an old flip phone. I think I was much more present in my life when that is what I had.

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