Should You Tweet from the Dinner Table?

I was watching The Colbert Report last night and his guest was discussing how, more and more, we are “alone together.” She doesn’t consider herself a luddite, but she is seeing how we are using technology to replace real human connections.

Consider this very common situation. You’re out having dinner. You might be with friends, your family, or even your future wife. Meanwhile, instead of actively engaging in a real conversation with the real human beings sitting at the same table, you whip out your smartphone and start tweeting about it. Maybe you update your Facebook status and post a picture of your appetizers. These circumstances are anything but rare.

Being Alone Together

This is what is meant by “alone together.” You are physically together at the same table with your dining guests, but you are each “alone” as you gaze into the glowing screen of your iPhone, Android device, or what have you. There is a certain disconnect when it comes to this face-to-face human interaction, because the faces aren’t even looking at one another. And it’s not just about Facebook and Twitter either. We see it all the time with email, text messages, and mobile web too.

Is this wrong? Should we not be doing this? Far be it for me to say that I do not partake in such activities. If you follow me on Twitter, then you’ll know that I have no trouble tweeting or TwitPic’ing my adventures around town. There is certainly some separation of my public and private life, but I’m mostly an open book.

The Online Persona

Society is changing. The profiles that you see on Facebook may not necessarily be representative of the actual people. It’s almost like we are all putting on a performance and we have this constant pressure to perform for our Twitter followers and Facebook friends. Beyond Twitter etiquette, perhaps we should give a little more thought toward real world etiquette.

For my part, if I’m at the dinner table with people who aren’t particularly into social media, I’ll be more inclined to leave my phone in my pocket. If everyone else is already tweeting away, there is no additional harm in me partaking in some tweetage as well. The key, though, is ensuring that you are not sacrificing the real face-to-face interaction in order to provide the online one.

Do you tweet from the dinner table? Why or why not?