Can You Survive At The Dinner Table Without Your Phone?

Today, we cannot seem to go anywhere or do anything without the presence of technology. If we look back to the rise of electricity and the invention of the telephone, as Carolyn Marvin traces in When Old Technologies Were New, we see the shift towards dependency and as a result a change in lifestyle. What most interests me is how technology has shaped relationships in the home.

Marvin writes: “Home was the protected place, carefully shielded from the world and its dangerous influences. New communication technologies were suspect precisely to the extent that they lessened the family’s control over what was admitted within its walls” (76). This fear, arising just from the invention of the telephone, is still true today. What we come to find is that not only has technology influenced what has been “admitted within [the] walls” of the home, but it has shifted how members of the family interact with each other as well. The video below shows this shift, highlighting just how distracted family members have become — not even paying attention to each other while at the dinner table. The son is constantly being fed information through the television, the daughter and mother through their phones, and the father through his computer.

Even in my group of friends today, we have to make conscious efforts to put our phones away when we go out to eat. Chick-fil-a even rewards you if you can last the entirety of your meal without using your phone. The rise of electricity and the telephone shifted familial dynamics in ways that I consider to be irreversible. Even if you make a conscious effort to remove technology from a specific setting, our day to day lives are built on technological interactions, so our conversations and discourses will always be influenced by what we see, hear, and engage with.