Mobile etiquette is now an integral part of etiquette training, especially when it comes to the presence of cell phones at the dining table. And as technology constantly evolves, discussions about its appropriate use must keep up. This week’s blog post, then, addresses one of the more recent yet wildly popular mobile trends: food selfies.
The other day, I was dining at a fine restaurant as part of Toronto’s Summerlicious festival. I couldn’t help but notice the behaviour of the couple at the table next to me. When each course of their three-course meal arrived, they spent several minutes photographing their food. After taking pictures, they proceeded to text or tweet the photos with their smartphones, which rested on the table throughout the duration of the meal.
While only mildly surprising, their actions nevertheless seemed to be more extreme than most cell phone usage that I have seen in restaurants. The downsides of this behaviour? The couple spent the majority of the meal ignoring each other, instead fixated on their phones and on taking pictures. Their actions also affected the ambiance of the restaurant, as they ignored the preferences of the restaurant staff and fellow diners.
Has this behaviour become normalized? In some ways, it has. I later learned that BlogTO, a popular Toronto blog, is hosting a Summerlicious 2014 Photo Contest. This contest encourages diners to photograph their food and submit it to the blog. This is not unusual: other contests such as Live with Kelly & Michael’s Farm-to-Table Food Selfie Contest or Cigna’s Healthy Food Selfie contest follow similar guidelines.
But even though the “food selfie” has become a normal and even encouraged ritual, it does not mean that it is always the best practice while dining. If you are determined to capture culinary memories at the table, consider these guidelines first:
- First and foremost: Never take food selfies while out on a business lunch or dinner. Business meals are about building relationships with professional contacts, not about photographing your meal.
- If you do want to take a picture if you are out with friends, family or while you are on vacation, do your best to photograph discreetly and quickly – then stow your phone or camera for the rest of dinner. If you want to tweet your photo, wait until you are no longer sitting at the table.
- Do not let photos or social media interrupt the meal, no matter whom you are with. Dining with others should be a time to focus on those around you and enjoy each other’s company.
What do you think about the normalization of food selfies at restaurants? Is this behaviour here to stay?
For more on mobile etiquette and dining, see our previous blog post, “Cell Phones at the Dinner Table – Are Times Changing?”