I’m going out on a limb here. There’s a strong possibility that the following post may be proof that I have mutated into a grumpy old man. Despite this – despite the fact that this could be confirmation that I have become a middle aged Walter Matthau-esque (in Dennis, great movie) Grinch – I’m going to continue. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.

So, here’s the thing. I am fed up of talking to the top of people’s heads. No, I’m not tall. The opposite, actually. I am tired of talking to people who think it is okay to look – not at me – but at thier phones. When did it become okay to be that rude?!

It seems like it has become acceptable to have a family dinner while staring at your lap and chatting with your friends. To not listen or interact with other people in the same room as you and to chat to the same people online that you were chatting with before dinner and will be chatting with after dinner too. I don’t accept it!

Isn’t a dinner around a table one of the last bastions of family life? Isn’t this where the family catch up, discuss, reflect, bond, share time together? Doesn’t it mean as much nowadays? Is there more value in a group chat on Facebook? Would it be that terrible if you didn’t join in that chat for just one hour? Or does the idea that one might miss out on chat, or a joke, so terrifying that it overrides the need for family interaction?

Let’s draw parallels. I’ve cooked you dinner. You sit down to eat. Would you phone up someone else and start talking to them? Would you pull out a joke book and start reading it and laughing to yourself? No, you wouldn’t. It would be rude.

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Now, I understand everybody using the phones on the train. There’s a situation where (if you’re travelling along) you wouldn’t ordinarily be expected to interact with other people. When walking to work, I use my phone to listen to audio-books, music and the radio. During some tea breaks I may watch tv on it. It’s handy that way.

There are places, however, where it just seems wrong to be paying more attention to your phone than on your immediate surroudings. This includes

  • On a date.
  • While taking your children to the park.
  • In the cinema.
  • While paying for your shopping.

There appears to be two solutions to this. One is for me to accept that the family dinner-time is dead for those who prefer to be on social media. That’s quite a sad proposition. The alternative is to impose a ‘no-phones’ rule at the dinner table. I tried that- it doesn’t work. The phone still comes out and the eyes roll when you ask for it to be put away. (Seriously, teenagers work their eye rolling muscles so much they could lift weights with them.) It doesn’t make them engage either, they just sit in a grump. Perhaps it’s already too late.

So, how to reclaim the family dinner time… Can it be done? Do you have the same problems? How do you deal with it ?