modern problems

Do You Use Your Smartphone to Solve Tableside Arguments?

Time was, it seemed rude to text or take a phone call at the dinner table. And even though it seems like society has yet to come to a definitive stance on when it is and isn’t acceptable to whip out your cell phone, that particular etiquette issue is so early 2000s, when texting, calling, and BrickBreaker were the only things most people did with their phones. Today, the Times highlights a new phone-at-the-table question, as more and more people have smartphones on their person at all times: If you’re in the midst of a heated, passionate argument — about, let’s say, the world’s best-selling potato chip flavor (ahem) — while dining, is it socially acceptable to end the argument by just Googling the thing rather than fighting about it for another hour?

Nobody’s sure. Obviously, people who write books about etiquette as if it still matters a whole lot don’t like tableside Googling: “Emily Post’s Table Manners for Kids, published in 2009, says bluntly, ‘Do NOT use your cellphone or any other electronic devices at the table.’” No surprise there. And over at The Atlantic, Derek Brown, a bartender in Washington, laments that smartphones are “obliterating” the bartender’s traditional role as “the professor of the people.” His role, that is:

Still, the Times’ Bruce Feiler seems mostly in favor of Googling at the table:

Most people the paper spoke to seem to support it, too:

The Village Voice cedes most people are doin’ it, anyway:

We’re going to say: No, don’t do this! The point of the tableside argument isn’t really to anoint a winner or a loser, but to have a largely pointless fact-based argument until everyone’s exhausted and eventually changes the subject (while still thinking about whatever the previous issue was). That’s the fun part of eating with friends and family as opposed to alone when you can Google to your heart’s content. And then, when everyone pretends to have calmed down about the best-selling potato-chip flavor (it’s BBQ sour cream n onion BBQ), someone can bring it up, like, months later, using Google as evidence that they were right, and by that point everyone’s over it and cedes that their opponent won. And then everybody wins. Well, what say you?

Should You Google at Dinner? [NYT via Runnin’ Scared/VV]

Do You Use Your Smartphone to Solve Tableside Arguments?