Big Screens, Little Screens

by admin on June 20, 2013

I was recently out to lunch with my husband and in-laws. We sat on the porch outside. The porch was slightly crowded.

The people at the table behind me spent at least ten minutes watching videos on their cell phones at a volume clearly heard by all on the porch. I thought the sound of the videos were annoying. For some reason, the thing I found most distracting was the applause and laughter I could hear on the video, not the people talking.

My immediate feeling was that it was poor etiquette to watch videos at the table in a public restaurant. However, on thinking about it, I wondered if I could be justified in that thought. Was it really any worse than the noise of typical mealtime conversations? Maybe a little louder, I guess.

I’d be interested to know what you think. 0613-13

The more restaurants my hubby and I frequent, the more I notice how many TVs these establishments have turned on to news, sports, or sitcoms.   It appears that the concept of a quiet dinner with pleasant music in the background has given way to diners needing to multitask while they eat.   Chow down, talk with your dining partner(s) and glance up at any one (or all) of the nine TVs mounted near the ceiling.

Cell phones/smart phones are no different, in my opinion, than scads of TV screens around the dining room with the exception of size.   TVs appear to be a common commodity in public dining venues and cell phones are not going to be going anywhere.   I don’t own a smart phone but it is not unusual for one of my children to pull theirs out and find a Youtube video that emphasizes the point he/she has been making in the discussion.  So we sit there and watch and the conversation continues.   It’s not much different than staring at the TV screen and going back to discussing what you just saw on the screen.

So, in other words, chill.

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Lychii June 20, 2013 at 5:02 am

It’s all good as long as you’re not disturbing the people around you. If you’re in a restaurant, on a bus or any other public place, creating excessive noise either by yelling or playing loud music/videos is rude.

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Sazerac June 20, 2013 at 5:13 am

I agree with our admin here. I have no love for the constant barrage of video and info we get in public places, but there’s little we can do about it. Unless the noise is at ear-wracking decibel levels (and I and/or my wife have politely requested before that the sound levels be modulated from the TV’s at a restaurant if we couldn’t hear each other), this is something that you generally just have to grin and bear.

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TheaterDiva1 June 20, 2013 at 6:40 am

I consider phone videos to be in the category as music and games – rude with sound in public. No one else wants to hear it. Wearing earbuds so the sound doesn’t interfere with other people should solve that problem.

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Alazne June 20, 2013 at 6:46 am

It’s not something I like, but sadly it seems all too common nowdays. I suppose my thought on it is that if the video/sound that’s played is at the level of a normal conversation, then there’s nothing you can say, as it’s part of being out in public. However, if the video/sound is excessively loud, I’d mention it to the manager, as that’s just irritating/distracting.

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Dominic June 20, 2013 at 7:06 am

I can’t agree, I’m afraid. If one is dining in an establishment that has television or other noise going, that is one thing. You’ve made the choice to dine at such a place, and you’re accepting the public noise/distraction, but that doesn’t open the floor for anyone who wants to contribute to the noise. To play videos (or music) at one’s own table on a phone or otherwise is rude to those at the surrounding tables.

That said, it is a fact that this happens and will likely continue to worsen, and there’s not much that can be done about it. It doesn’t mean those of us who don’t like it have to like it; it’s just going to be more and more difficult to avoid. The gym is a prime example–half the people there are walking around with earbuds in, though their music is turned up so loud anyone near them can hear it (if they don’t also have music on). The noise pollution is astonishing, and it’s brought into places it doesn’t belong. It’s bad enough in the locker room (where yesterday, one guy just unplugged the headphones and let his music play, over the sound of the piped-in music, for several minutes because he apparently couldn’t be without his music while changing), but people bring their music into the sauna and whirlpool, where others are just trying to relax. I’ve asked many times–it happens almost daily–for someone to turn down their music in the sauna, and usually the response is, “Huh?” because typically it’s so loud they can’t hear what I’m asking.

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Jo-Ann Fagan June 20, 2013 at 7:06 am

I’m not much for the ‘grin and bear’ response. Without the public, restaurants would go out of business. Management will not know that t.v.s and loud conversations on cell phones or while watching videos are annoying unless you tell them so, politely, of course. Our local restaurant thought t.v.s constantly blaring is what its patrons wanted, but after customers spoke up, the t.v.s were turned to one of the all music channels, at low volume. What a relief! Sports bars–I get it. But family restaurants, please, speak up!

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Margo June 20, 2013 at 8:02 am

I think it depends on the establishment. If you’re in a bar or restaurant which has a TV on, or is playing music, then I think it’s hard to justify a complaint about other patrons watching a video.

On the other hand, if the restuarant is a quiet one, then I think it is rude for guests to be bringing in music and videos which can be overheard by other dinners, and I think it would fine to speak to a staff member about it

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WildIrishRose June 20, 2013 at 8:04 am

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

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L.J. June 20, 2013 at 8:05 am

It’s the volume that was the problem, not the videos. If someone had sat down at a table near you with an 80’s style boombox blasting, you would probably have been just as annoyed. With music, society learned that the polite thing to do is put on a pair of earphones. The same rules should apply to other devices whose sound intrudes into others’ personal space.

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KarenK June 20, 2013 at 8:06 am

I don’t see any problem with it with one exception – earbuds or headphones should be used!

What other people do at their table in a restaurant is nobody’s business but their own, until it infringes on the enjoyment of others. If you could not have heard the videos, it would not have bothered the OP, I suspect.

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The Elf June 20, 2013 at 8:08 am

Ugh, I hate this. It’s more of a problem for the screen watcher’s dining companions, however.

Count me in to the hate-tv-in-a-restaurant crowd. The exception are sports bars, where the idea is to watch the game while eating/drinking/socializing. The definition of sports bar can be pretty expansive, though. I’d prefer to narrow it down to places that entirely gear themselves around sports, not just places that happen to have the game on. I love watching a big game in a sports bar!

I dislike noisy restaurants, whether the noise is from crowds or from TV. The Washington Post dining reviewer has begun to include decible levels and I love the idea. I wish more reviewers would include such data, even if it’s only qualitative.

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Cat June 20, 2013 at 8:38 am

I have to admit, I have never seen the point of televisions or live/canned music in restaurants. I am generally with someone when I go out to dine, and I would like to be able to talk to them without having to shout over a TV or loud music.
Unless there is a dance floor and the music is necessary, I feel conversation is becoming a lost art. We sit and expect to be kept entertained without communicating with someone directly. I can always eat in front of the TV at home.
I have the same complaint about radios in cars. If I am traveling with someone, I like to be able to converse without having to shout over a radio. There is also a great deal to be said for the occasional times of silence that come naturally.
With all the noise in our environment, I wonder how much thinking we actually do anymore. Are we getting more and more ill-mannered because we are so accustomed to the constant noise in the world that we no longer think about our actions and their results? So often I see someone begin to scream obscenities simply because they won’t listen to a rational explanation. It’s all emotion and no cognition.

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Pen^2 June 20, 2013 at 8:43 am

If you’re in a public place where the sound of a TV isn’t out of place or disturbing, then it’s fine. If you’re in a train carriage or anywhere else where it does not occur, then keep the phone away. I’ve endured too many work commutes where I and the rest of the carriage have been forced to listen to inappropriate videos being enjoyed by an oblivious person nearby. Use some headphones in this case.

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AMC June 20, 2013 at 8:45 am

I don’t think it is rude in and of itself to watch a video while dining. But if the volume was loud enough so as to disturb conversations at other tables, then I think It would have been fine for OP to politely ask the other party to turn it down a bit.

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E June 20, 2013 at 8:52 am

I was at a bustling brunch place the other day, and DH and I were nearing the end of our breakfast. A dad and his son sat down in the booth behind us, and used their smart phone to play (I think) a music video. The place was not quiet, so they must have had the volume turned up all the way. It WAS annoying because the place already had on some background music and because a TV program or music sounds different than the normal chatter of voices, which is really easy to tune out. Luckily we were leaving, but otherwise I would have had to sit there in growing frustration. There have been studies that show that, for example, a one-sided conversation (hearing someone talk on a cell phone) is different and much more disruptive to the brain and one’s attention than is a two-sided conversation that two people are having near you. I think the same was true in this situation, it is a more bothersome noise than the typical sounds of a restaurant. Personally, I don’t frequent restaurants with TVs everywhere, and it is annoying to me to hear them buzzing around.

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Shalamar June 20, 2013 at 8:53 am

People on their cell phones are one thing – I hate it, frankly, but if they’re not with my party, I can pretty much tune them out unless they’re very loud. Restaurants that always have TVs blaring the Big Game are another story. I refuse to give them my business.

What about playing videos at work? I have a co-worker who is always pulling up YouTube videos and saying to her neighbour “Oh, you have to come watch this, it’s so funny!” Then, for the next five minutes or so, all I hear is “… (unintelligible) HA HA HA! … (unintelligible) HA HA HA!” So annoying.

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Chef Bob June 20, 2013 at 8:57 am

I don’t like cell phones at all, sure I use one only because payphones have disappeared. But, I still cant see the screen.

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Wendy B. June 20, 2013 at 9:03 am

“Pleasant” (read rock or country) music in the background turned up so loudly that you can’t hear your friends/family sitting next to you. My parents are both hard of hearing with hearing aids. You either take them out and can’t hear a thing, or you leave them in and suffer. Oh, and the button you’re supposed to press to help filter things manages to filter the people at your table, not the loud stuff. Not only should TVs be banned, so should the music.

Not much you can do about the cell phones, though.

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MichelleP June 20, 2013 at 9:06 am

I was with admin until the “just chill” part. I respectfully disagree that pulling out a phone and playing videos is no different than watching tv. Last week I met my stepmother for a lovely lunch. TVs blaring, cell phones ringing, people yelling on them, servers hollering across the room to each other, etc. A couple of teenagers behind us blaring a video on a smartphone. Kids screaming, no parents doing anything. Everywhere I go is so loud these days! Whatever happened to eating a meal and just having conversation?? I also believe that using electronic devices at the table, especially a family dinner, is rude.

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Shoegal June 20, 2013 at 9:07 am

I’m not a fan of all the TVs – I agree – where can you go where there isn’t a tv running in a restaurant? What I really want to know is why every restaurant thinks I want to watch sports?? I can understand it a little better if the home team is playing but otherwise I don’t EVER want to watch it much less hear it. My husband and I sit at the bar of our favorite restaurant – and a sports program is always on – it might be fun to watch something that was funny and entertaining with him on those evenings. As for the phones – you can’t get away from them and they are now part of our culture. We need to be connected and have access to all information all the time.

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badkitty June 20, 2013 at 9:14 am

I went to see Iron Man 3 with a group of friends on opening night. We were at the first show, an early showing, which was full of the most die-hard fans… and one guy who hadn’t seen Avengers. He proceeded to watch it on his phone while we waited for the movie to start. I happened to be right behind him, so I got to see it too, but it was very strange. The theater was dimly lit, so EVERYONE in the rows behind him could see the glow from his phone screen and I’d guess about six rows back could see exactly what he was watching. In that case, it wasn’t the volume that was distracting, it was the light and flickering images. He actually joked with the people sitting around him (including me, so not just his friends) that we should facebook or tweet about this, “sitting in the theater, waiting for Iron Man 3, realizing the guy in front of you didn’t see Avengers”.

As long as it doesn’t disrupt the people around you, it’s not rude. As soon as it DOES, it IS. If you feel comfortable talking to the people around you about this disruption, you’re aware that it’s a disruption.

Also, go to a later show if you haven’t seen the previous films.

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MollyMonster June 20, 2013 at 9:20 am

I somewhat disagree. If the atmosphere of the establishment is one with TVs going, loud talking, etc, then yeah, chill. But if it is a fine-dining atmosphere and there conversations are muted and no TVs, a 10 minute video at top volume is rude. It is all about judging your space. Now, if it had been a short clip of “Little Sally’s school recital” being shown to family members with the volume at a moderate setting, no biggie. But a 10 minute video in a reasonably quiet space is too much. You could have politely asked them to turn the volume down so at least they were better aware of how intrusive they were being.

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Chocobo June 20, 2013 at 9:26 am

I don’t even like “pleasant music” playing. The background noise ramps up the volume of a crowded restaurant, which makes everyone speak louder, which makes the whole affair a shouting match eventually.

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NostalgicGal June 20, 2013 at 9:53 am

A lot of restaurants are now no smoking zones, a few have even banned children. Some do offer kids and no kids areas… maybe they need to start offering TV or no TV areas. Aka if you are in a non zone, the cells and tablets stay off. If you want to play with your tech toy/babysitter (my DH with some of his stuff, that’s what it seems like, his babysitter that needs a recharge and a signal) you sit in the TV area.

The art of the table conversation seems to be going by the wayside too. The only one that steams me is people that have to texttexttexttexttext AND to people they are sitting with!!!!!!!!!!!!! (there was a Doonesbury strip awhile back where two of the early 20somethings got together, and kept their heads so into their electronics, they missed the fact they ordered and were brought food, surfaced only when one said ‘we should get together’ text and the other said ‘we are I’m sitting across the table from you’ then both accused the waitress of not having brought them their food yet!!!!! If this didn’t mirror real life I wouldn’t mention it) If you HAVE TO to run a vid or watch something, keep it turned DOWN to conversation level! And that does NOT mean the level far too many talk AT when they talk on their cell (aka those that are literally screaming into their phone, anywhere and everywhere.)

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Anonymous June 20, 2013 at 9:58 am

Actually, I agree with the OP. Just as a background, I did my undergraduate degree in Neighbouring Province, a good nine-hour drive, or twelve-hour-plus bus ride away; the latter with two layovers. Anyway, my second year of university (before smartphones), I came home to visit at Thanksgiving, and my parents met me at the bus station in the city about an hour away from home, and my dad suggested getting some dinner at a small Nicaraguan restaurant nearby, before driving the rest of the way home. It had been a pretty long and tiring journey thus far, and for the past several hours, I’d had to endure a crying baby on the bus, whose adult HAD been trying to mitigate the problem, but just wasn’t successful. However, my mom agreed that she was hungry, so we went to the restaurant. The food was good, but there was a big-screen TV in there that was honestly too big for the space, and it was tuned in to a baseball game, so after a bus ride with a screaming baby, I had to put up with TV noise during dinner. I was going to ask if it could be turned off, citing the fussy baby on the bus, and my need for some quiet, but my parents told me not to, because they figured that the restaurant owners must be really proud of their acquisition (my dad said the TV hadn’t been there the last time he’d visited), and asking them to turn it off would hurt their feelings, and also, there was another family at a nearby table. From what I saw, they were enjoying each other’s company as much as, if not more than, the TV, but I acquiesced, and kept my mouth shut. Still, I think it detracted from the overall experience. Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I eat in front of the TV (or my laptop, or whatever) at home, so in my mind, eating out is special, and shouldn’t involve “screen time,” unless, as Admin said, it’s relevant to the conversation; for example, showing someone a YouTube video on their phone to make a point.

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Another Alice June 20, 2013 at 10:03 am

I disagree. How is this any different than blasting your radio on the bus? If it’s loud enough to disturb people not at your table, it’s too loud. Also, if you know ahead of time that a restaurant has a TV, or multiple TVs, you may make your dining choice based on that. If this restaurant didn’t have any other televisions, obviously customers were not going there to hear it.

Also – I can only think of super casual restaurants and sports bars that have TVs. Even middle-of-the-road chain restaurants usually only have them in the bar area, so I don’t think most people would be okay with someone watching loud videos and disturbing their meal. The OP states that this is on an outside porch area; frankly, cell phone noise would go right over normal conversations, as it has a sort of tinny sound that’s super irritating. And again, I highly doubt that anyone would go to a restaurant, dine in the outdoor area, and expect a TV blaring anyway.

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Hollis June 20, 2013 at 10:08 am

Most of the restaurants husband and I go to will have the television on, but have it on “caption”, no sound at all. What I dislike is the music pumped up to unbearable levels where you cannot have a conversation even with the person next to you, much less across the table.

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delislice June 20, 2013 at 10:08 am

I’ve complained before about the constant presence of televisions, especially in “captive audience” situations, such as emergency rooms and doctor’s offices.

I’m similarly distressed at the way televisions are popping up not just in casual/sports-themed restaurants, where it’s expected as part of the décor, but in a all sorts of restaurant settings. I find I am constantly having to wave my hand in front of my husband’s face: “I’m over here.”

Am I the only one who minds that my dining partner spends the entire meal with his gaze directed just above my head and slightly to the right?

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Miss-E June 20, 2013 at 10:11 am

You also don’t know what they were watching. It might have been some personal video, like someone’s grandkids in a play. I say this because I went to brunch with my family on Father’s Day and showed them a video I have taken two days before of my boyfriend’s brother proposing to his girlfriend by singing her a song onstage in a small venue (aka: lots of cheering). I kept the volume low but we were outside (I’m wondering if maybe the OP is talking about us!).

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Stacey Frith-Smith June 20, 2013 at 10:13 am

I don’t know what the OP could have done in this case- but it really is irritating to have to listen to the media choices of others when you are trying to have a quiet dinner. The same thing goes for loud music or television played by the establishment and exceptionally loud conversation and laughter that drags on all through the meal. There’s not much to be done about it unless you can request a quiet area when being seated or request that the volume be turned down if the media belongs to the establishment. Some special needs children and adults would require this accommodation to be able to function and many who use hearing aids also find loud “ambiance” a trial. In this case, I suppose you could have asked the manager to speak to them if it was truly that loud. Otherwise, make a mental note of this establishment’s patio as a place that doesn’t stay on the quiet side and take your own business to an alternative location. But I do sympathize.

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Helen June 20, 2013 at 10:16 am

It sounds as if they were in a place without large television (I have yet to see large televisions proliferate outdoor seating at restaurants), in which case, I would say it was rude.

It’s all about context — if you’re at a fine restaurant which does not have televisions everywhere, it’s inappropriate. If you’re at a sports bar with sixteen plasmas and a t.v. at every booth, it’s completely okay. Here, it sounds like it was out of place and it disrupted other diners, in which case, it was inappropriate.

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Li June 20, 2013 at 10:19 am

I also think it depends on what sort of restaurant you’re visiting. If you’re in quick service joint, a sports bar or a casual chain like a Chilis I think you just have to live with it unless it gets *really* bad. These places are, by their nature, very casual and noise is just part and parcel of the package.

If you’re in a quiet little bistro or any other sort of place that emphasizes an elegant or relaxed dining experiance, you have every right to be a little peeved. And I’m not trying to say that you need to pay top dollar for quiet either, there is a very inexpensive bistro near me where the waitstaff has been known to talk to diners that get a little rowdy. You just need to know the environment of the place you’re going to.

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Kate June 20, 2013 at 10:33 am

I have to respectfully disagree with the admin here. I an personally upset with the constant barrage of TVs, smartphones, and those little tiny TVs the people actually bring to the dinner table in restaurants. Why can’t we just sit there and have a nice quiet conversation? Why does everyone have to prove their points with a video? I have to say I truly miss those conversations we used to have about what the capital of North Dakota was, without someone immediately whipping out their cell phone to say Bismarck.

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wowsers June 20, 2013 at 10:58 am

These types of activities in a restaurant are basically certain kinds of establishments. We make sure, when we pick the place to eat, that we know ahead of time what the restaurant is like, and if we are looking for the rowdy, TV, loud, cell-phoning crowd or the quiet, peaceful, candlelight meal. One type of dining etiquette no longer exists in a world of many choices. We recently visited a winery that closed at 8pm, which I thought seemed way too early in the summer, and so I asked the owners why they closed so early. Her reply was that they were being very exclusive in who they wished their patrons to be, and they find that the kind of clientele they were looking for was the people that came in and ate and dined well before 8. So, there are many choices, and restaurants cater to certain people–so it’s up to us to be choosy on where we go–and not expect the patrons to change their habits to suit US.

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Ashley June 20, 2013 at 11:11 am

If the volume is high enough that it’s causing me to have to shout to be heard by whoever I am speaking to, I have NO issues asking someone to turn it down.

I kind of disagree a little bit with admin here but only like, half disagree. I think whipping out your cell phone and playing Youtube videos should kind of depend on where you are. Like if I go to a sports bar, and there’s already nine TV’s playing the Stanly Cup playoffs, fine, whatever. Your cell phone noise isn’t going to be out of place. But if I’m at a place where there are no TVs, yeah I’m gonna be a little annoyed if all the sudden I hear the Harlem Shake (or whatever the current Youtube trend is) start up.

Also, it should absolutely be noted that if you are looking at your phone and using it as a way to ignore whoever you are with, that’s just flat out rude no matter where you are.

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Calli Arcale June 20, 2013 at 11:33 am

I’m in agreement with admin, though it does depend on the venue. In a sports bar, YouTube fits right in. In a five-star black-tie-only dining establishment, I would expect the host to ask you to discontinue the video or depart — but that’s up to the restaurant, not the diners, and is more about maintaining a particular ambiance than anything else. As long as the volume is not excessive, there is nothing *fundamentally* more rude about sharing a YouTube video on your cell phone versus a conversation at the same volume.

That said, when I let my kids watch YouTube as a distraction at a restaurant, I require that the volume be so low it’s barely audible. But this is in no small part because my daughters tend to watch about the same dozen or so videos and they’ve gotten a bit repetitive. ;-)

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Carol June 20, 2013 at 11:52 am

To me, playing videos on your cell phone is not much different than having an overly loud conversation on your cell phone. If I don’t want to hear every detail of your food poisoning episode as you recount it to the person on the other end of the phone, I don’t want to hear the video you’re watching either. There’s a reason headphones were invented.

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Lo June 20, 2013 at 12:13 pm

I wouldn’t be so much annyoed as embarrassed for the people watching the video. Who wants that much attention called to themselves? Who wants everyone listening in (whether they want to or not)

But I’m one of those people who gets embarrassed when her cell phone goes off audibly in public so there’s that.

I would just be cringing for them.

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Daisy June 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm

If I wanted to watch television while I eat dinner, I could stay home to do it. My husband and I prefer peace and quiet, and go out of our way to dine at places which provide it. We simply pass by places that add to the cacaphony of modern urban life. Quiet restaurants are usually self-regulated. They attact quiet people who wouldn’t dream of even answering a cell phone, let alone hauling one out to play a video.

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Tsunoba June 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

My family actually has a “no cell phones at the dinner table” rule. The only exception thus far has been when I pull up my calorie-counting app to log the current meal before I forget, or to find something on the menu within my “calorie budget.”

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Missy June 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I specifically choose restaurants with no TV because it annoys me so much. If I paid for a nice restaurant with a calm atmosphere I’d be annoyed at the use of a media device as much as I’d be annoyed if I found out they were serving me grocery-store frozen food.

On the other hand, if the servers are indulgent of such behavior, I’d figure it was up to me to “chill out.” (There are many restaurants with signs up front that ask customers to be “respectful of others” in their use of cellphones and other devices.)

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psyche June 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I don’t mind people looking at little screens at resturants-I own a Kindle-but it drives me nuts when people watch videos and don’t use headphones.

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SJ June 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Good point, Admin.

On the other hand, the OP doesn’t specify, but what if this was a restaurant with no TVs?

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Marozia June 20, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Put earphones on so not to disturb the others around you.
Watching these You-Tube videos on your smart phones, sadly, is the in-thing nowadays, out in public. Vulgar, crass, yes, I agree. But you won’t stop some diehard fans.
Earphones, people!!

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Vall June 20, 2013 at 8:27 pm

My main issue with this would be a table whose noise level is so high that, “at a volume clearly heard by all on the porch”. That’s too loud regardless of what they’re doing.

In my climate, I don’t know of any restaurants that have multiple TV’s outside on the patio. However, if a restaurant has TV’s outside, this would be more acceptable to me. The OP does not say if this restaurant has any TV’s at all though.

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LawGeek June 20, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I always wonder whether the people around us are judging my husband and me when we read or text at the table. We have been known to text each other in a crowded restaurant when we wish to say something private. In a lot of Manhattan restaurants, other patrons are less than two feet from you on bench seating, so it is the only way not to be overheard.

I’ve been recovering from spinal surgery for a few months now, and my husband is home caring for me. We’re together constantly (in a small apartment), and if I do get the energy to have dinner out, we’re usually all talked out. We want nothing more than to read in silence until the meal arrives. We did the same thing on our honeymoon, where we would spend hours traveling in the car talking before we sat down for a quiet meal. We drove over 3,000 miles on that trip.

It never bothers me too much – who cares what strangers think if I am not bothering them? I do something wonder whether they’re thinking that we must have a terrible marriage and nothing to say to one another. I still leave a restaurant to make phone calls, though. It just feels wrong to do so at that table.

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MinnieMouse June 20, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I agree with the others who say that watching the video wasn’t necessarily the issue, but the volume was. We have young children who we often bring to restaurants, and one of the ways we keep them occupied is with iPads. But we make a point of not letting them turn the volume up to such a level that the people around us can hear it – in fact I personally get annoyed if I can hear it myself. No one wants to be distracted by anyone else’s noise while they’re trying to enjoy dinner.

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VM June 20, 2013 at 8:55 pm

So far the only time I’ve been taken aback by someone playing a video was one time I was accompanying my mother in the emergency room. Not in the waiting room, mind you – IN the ER. It was in a separate room from the main area, set up specifically for heart issues, with two beds in it. And beyond the curtain dividing her bed from the rest of the room came the sounds of a Family Guy episode. But I figured the poor person needed whatever distraction they could get to cope with their situation, and as long as my mother wasn’t irritated by it — and believe me she’d let me know if she was! — I wasn’t going to say anything.

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Kate June 20, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Lo, I think the people who use these devices in public are the kind of people who ENJOY everyone looking at them. I would also be extremely embarrassed if my cell phone went off in a quiet restaurant, or library, or other area where silence was golden. Unfortunately, we are becoming the minority.

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Laura June 20, 2013 at 9:55 pm

I’m on my computer so much already that I refuse to get a “smart” phone and become even more disconnected from the world. I think playing loud videos in a restaurant is rude and you should have complained. I am so freaking sick of these idiots with their tiny screens. I can’t wait until we get less invasive technology that doesn’t disturb everyone around us….oh yeah, EARBUDS!

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