Last week I was reading this entry by a blogger who titled his post “I will Check My Phone at Dinner and You Will Deal With It.”

Picture by Alvimann

He tells the story of being at dinner with his parents and how his mother asked him to put away the phone. So he checked it under the table every ten minutes or so. Then he proceeds to state that this is the new norm, everyone does it and to get off his case. Look around a restaurant and you will see what he means. Everyone, including those people over 50, is doing it.

I suddenly felt like bitch-slapping him across the wire.

He did that to his mother and father. He did that to his mother and father in a restaurant. He did that to his mother and father in a restaurant in public.

I wanted to ask “how old are you, 11?” I wanted to ask if he had really wanted to be at this dinner. I wanted to ask if he was paying or were his parents. If it had been the latter and I was his parent, I think I would have left him the bill. Or I might have grabbed the device and said “you will get it back after dinner.” Wait, I forgot a classic parent speak. “If everyone is acting like a moron, you should too?

Overwhelmingly, the response to this blog was condemnation for the young man. He was called boorish and rude. An idiot, inconsiderate and a poor dinner partner. People recounted how they had seen that behavior in their pre-teen kids or other diners sitting at a table and not talking to one another.

In response, I took the time to come up with a few “rules” one might call device etiquette when out for dinner, even if you are at a diner. This is when it is appropriate to bring out the smart phone when having a meal with others.

You can bring out your cell phone/device …

1. While waiting, alone, for the rest of your party to show up or return from the bathroom.

2. You need to check Wikipedia to prove your point in the argument.

3. Someone asks about your new app and you are showing it to them.

4. You are a doctor on call or you are a lawyer awaiting the return of a jury with a verdict.

5. You are calling for emergency services when one of your fellow diners is suffering a stroke or heart attack.

Picture by Crass

It is that simple. I shouldn’t have to explain it. But apparently there are people who think they need to check Facebook, e-mail, twitter, etc. every few minutes or else they might be dead. The truth is you don’t unless it is for rule #4. At meal times you should be present for the conversation, for the meal presentation and the eating of the meal. If the other person gets a different dish than what you ordered, you ask to sample it.

You communicate, you share, you verbally ‘post’ your feelings. It is called “talking to each other.” We did it a lot before cell phone became more than cell phones.

How do you dictate cell phone use at the dinner table in your family?