They’re words of wisdom that everyone should know: the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. One way to be romantic and spend quality time as a couple is to share a good meal together. There’s something about white linen table cloths, lit candles and being serenaded by live musicians that makes people forget about their personal problems and focus in on spending time with the person sitting across from them.
Until all of the sudden, something vibrates and a party of two looks more like a threesome.
It’s a problem that has taken over dinner tables across the country. Couples make plans to have dinner together but are too busy on their laptops, cell phones, tablets and other technological devices to pay attention to one another.
Ana Ogden, who has been married for 21 years, says she’s seen this phenomenon unravel in the past few years. She goes to dinner with her husband every weekend and says they have spent the last few months focusing their dinner dates on people-watching and observing how couples engage (or fail to engage) in conversation.
Ogden says that it’s become more like the idea of little kids engaging in parallel play, a psychological term used to describe young children in the phase where they seem to play more next to each other than with each other.
“They used to say that you could separate the married couples from the new ones because the married ones had nothing to talk about while those who were on their first or second date wouldn’t shut up,” she says. “Now it’s hard to tell who’s who because none of the couples around us are ever talking!”
Today’s generation has become accustomed to all sorts of technological gadgets ranging from iphones and blackberries to android phones and tablets and laptops to music devices. Lauren Coto, a 23-year-old journalist finds herself working 3 jobs and constantly having to check her phone. Her boyfriend, Carlos Alvarez, works in marketing and has 2 phones he has to keep track of.
“We usually go out for lunch and find ourselves paying attention to everything except each other,” says Coto. “As long as we’re both okay with it, it’s not a big deal. We both understand how important work is and being in each other’s presence is enough- at least for me.”
Desirae Garzia, 23, has worked as a waitress at several bars and restaurants in Miami since the time she was 16. She says this used to be a problem with the younger couples but that in the past year or two she has noticed that older couples have been adapting to this technology more than ever and the problem has spread to older customers just as rapidly.
“I actually had to tap a man on the shoulder the other day because both he and his business partner were so involved with their phones that they totally disregarded the fact that I was trying to take their order,” Garzia says. “I’ve seen couples text each other as they’re sitting across from each other, just to make use of their phones. It’s like a disease!”
Some think that this epidemic will spread beyond repair. Will couples replace real intimacy with a twisted version of it that might include Facebook messaging as opposed to posting public wall posts? While social media presents the idea that it brings people together, it is only a matter of time before people realize that it is contrarily tearing them apart.