How modern is too modern?
When you think of table manners, an image of our parents fondly scolding us to sit up straight, use our knife and fork properly and not talk over someone else who is already speaking tends to trigger a childhood memory. It is what we were taught from a young age to be acceptable, normal manners at our dining room table preparing us for interacting with greater society.
Over time and in particular the last five years or so this has changed significantly – the edges are very, very blurred as to what is deemed appropriate. Especially when engaging on our smartphone. We all have one and most of us use it on a very regular basis.
I work in social media; it’s part of my job. Not only that, it’s part of my business so I’m keenly aware the importance of needing to check it frequently. In my industry, when attending a media lunch, it is common courtesy to pull out our phone and at some stage and take an Instagram snap of the glorious spread before us: the flowers, the models or even that chocolate dessert that is simply picture perfect and needs to be captured on screen before inhaling the pure exquisiteness of its form. It’s not uncommon to see fellow diners and colleagues with their phones out thinking of something witty to write before pressing ‘publish’. In this situation, this is now normal. Social media has become a key part of the way we interact and communicate messages.
But is this situation acceptable in real, everyday life? No. Phones belong nowhere in sight. In my opinion, using or answering a phone during a ‘real life’ engagement is simply rude. And scrolling through social media when someone is talking to you? It’s awful.
Why must we be connected at all times? What is so urgent that it can’t wait? Or if it is urgent then why can’t you excuse yourself from the table to deal with it?
We need to go back to the basics. If we are having a coffee with a friend , dinner with family or engaged in a business meeting, turning your phone off and not looking at it is a sign of respect. And should you have to use it for some reason or another, excuse yourself. Make it noted to those you are engaging with that it is a ‘one off’ because ultimately it sends the message that you think your time is more valuable than theirs.
We live in a world surrounded by so much stimulation. Social media, instant messaging and being contactable 24 hours of the day that we need to take it back and have some “off” time. Live life as you breathe it and be part of the conversation 100%.
Be the modern social woman with modern manners – it will get you places.