A friend recently posted on Facebook a link to a likely apocryphal story about a restaurant survey. The graphic below gives the premise, and you can read here for the whole story.
As I commented on my friends post, the story says a lot about us. We’re so wrapped up in our PDAs (i.e., our Personal Digital Distraction Assistants) that we don’t realize how often we inconvenience ourselves and others. We slow down service at the restaurant, on the road, and in queues, then complain that said service is slow, completely oblivious to our own role.
In particular in the story is the point where people send the food back to be reheated, necessitated entirely by the continued distraction with their hand-held devices. Alas, I admit that even I am guilty of the occasional (and, yes, it is only occasional) photo of the food or drink solely for immediate posting on Facebook. I’m not sure when sharing the experience became more important than the experience itself.
But perhaps this is too harsh a judgment. Possibly this is less about the need to self-validate to an online audience as it is a way to bring that audience into the wonder of the moment. Maybe it’s actually a good thing. Or maybe it really doesn’t matter.
In any case, the fact that the restaurant story, though almost certainly an exercise in creative writing, has become a meme gone viral, says a lot about us as well. We’ve become a network of socially connected strangers who engage online as much, if not more, than we do in the flesh. And yet, the presence of Facebook and LinkedIn has allowed me to reconnect with hundreds of people I once knew but had lost touch. For that this social network idea is a treasure. It has also given me the opportunity to connect with people I have never known and would likely have never met, but who are interested in those things that interest me – Abraham Lincoln, Nikola Tesla, Travel, Science. It’s like joining a local club with worldwide membership.
So the next time I’m in a restaurant I’ll enjoy the food, the ambiance, and the company. I’ll embrace the wonder of the moment. I’ll live the experience fully. And, yes, I might even post a photo of my drink on Facebook.
© David J. Kent 2014