May 25, 2015 - 4 years ago


The information age of digital technology and connectivity allows us to be completely ‘connected’ in our business, family and social interactions providing unhindered accessibility and all the benefits that come from being contactable 24/7. But with this also comes great expectation, and great pressure…

So much so that it seems its become increasingly difficult for some to sit through a meeting, date or family gathering without the distraction of beeping, flashing calls, texts, tweets and facebook notifications demanding our attention in real time, consequently taking our attention away from real people and real situations..

The idea that technology is having a negative impact on society is nothing new. But those who are adamant on maintaining their right to ‘mulit task’ may benefit from a break down of why these social standards exist to begin with. What is etiquette? What is it really about and how can we adapt it to our modern day lives to continue utilising improved technology while maintaining traditional values and raising new generations who value meal times, social interactions and common courtesy?

Traditionally, the social expectation was widely accepted and the standards did not vary greatly – Research suggests that table manners were as expected as wearing shoes in public. Wasn’t really a question. This would include proper posture, language and use of utensils at the table, standing when a woman stands, remaining at the table until all are finished and children to finish their meal.

These days, husbands and wives often text through dinner, tv remains on, children are entertained with ipads through meal time or eat separately, are excused from the table without asking and often leave food behind or demand an alternate option. Youths sit at dinner or a bar, faces down, glowing screen, frantically tapping away fully engaged with their device, failing to make eye contact or conversation saving any kind of social interaction to those on the receiving end of their Iphone.

It seems as with all things, in this scenario balance is key – there must be somewhere we can meet in the middle. Some families have adopted technology free zones or times of day to prevent distractions interrupting quality family time. Perhaps if a text is crucial and the need arises at an inopportune time, one may acknowledge the imposition but excuse oneself for a moment. Surely couples can manage 30 minutes of conversation during dinner. Children can learn from their parents and other meal time attendees how to interact socially, share ideas, express values and enjoy the event of gathering at the end of each day to appreciate good food, fortune and family.

After all, these are not rules… Nobody sits down and sets these standards as some kind of oppressive attempt at restricting freedom or creating conformity. These social standards known as ‘Etiquette’ come from emotional human needs. The need to engage, to be heard, understood and appreciated. The need for quality time with loved ones. Find a balance, be present, be available to those who are in your company, even if it means disconnecting just long enough to reconnect.

‘Technology is a useful servant, but a dangerous master’.
Christian Lous Lange