On a rainy Sunday afternoon, I went out with my family to a local family restaurant nearby. Now, if you are like me and the other some billion people out there, you know how depressing Sunday afternoons can turn out. Combine it with a gray sky and a lot of raindrops; its depressing level could top the roof. While there, I noticed a family of five took a table not too far from us. I noticed them because they were the face of a middle class all-American family. A perfect fit for a Toyota minivan TV commercial. The waitress interrupted my thoughts by her big toothy smile and high-pitched voice asking what we wanted for drinks. I gave the orders and also asked her to split a small size of lemonade into two cups and dilute the lemonade with water. That’s the drink I always order for my kids. The waitress’s eyes were full of questions, and as always I felt obligated to tell her, I order that drink for the kids to control their sugar intake.
Twenty minutes later, I noticed the family of five again. Their appetizers already on the table, the father of the family had his blackberry out and it seemed like he was writing an email. The mother was talking to her four- or five-year-old daughter stroking the girl’s blond shoulder length hair. The other kids, two boys seemed to be between the ages of ten and twelve. The boys were talking, looking at the menus and taking sips of the soda they had in front of them.
Meanwhile, my kids were arguing over the crayons and on who gets to have the color purple. The enthusiast waitress was back and took the rest of our orders. While we were waiting for the food, I checked my Facebook, updated my status made a comment about a friend’s post. My daughter reached to grab my iPhone to play one of the many games she has downloaded on it. I realized I had to put the phone away to prevent her from playing. The food was on the table in no time and we all became busy with talking and eating.
Close to the ending of our meals, I noticed the family of five again. The sight of their table made that Sunday afternoon more depressing than it already was. The father of the family was still typing on his blackberry. The mother had her white iPhone 5 in hand with a vague smile on her face. The little girl was playing with a pink Nintendo DS. The older boy was reading what seemed like one of the Harry Potter series. And the younger boy was munching the fries while playing with an iPad. They were eating and drinking the food without looking at the food. They each were busy in their own world. Altogether, sitting around a table without being together. They seemed alone.
We finished our food, paid the bill and left the restaurant. Before I stepped out, I gave the family of five a last glance. They were done with their meals; the two boys were still busy reading and playing. The little girl was now playing on her mother’s iPhone with what I assume was a new game she downloaded. The husband and wife were chatting. I thought to myself, where the line must have been drawn with this family. If the father left his blackberry in his pocket and the mother did not take her iPhone out from her purse, the kids probably would not have gotten busy with their source of entertainments. That sitting around a table to eat is not just to fuel our bodies but a way to reconnect and bond with one another.
Are we just consumers who buy the latest technology to make our lives easier? Or we still are the human beings who need to interact with others in order to survive. Is the excessive amount of individualism has caused the rise in depression and feeling of isolation? Or it will make our society to grow as a whole. If we choose not to interact with a single human being throughout any given day, technology has given us the luxury of not doing so. The power is within us, as individual and as a society to set limits and draw lines.