Q: I recently was on a date with a woman I met online. She was intelligent, up on current events and able to hold up her end of the conversation most of the time. The rest of the time she was on her phone. Not talking to or texting anyone, but uploading photos to Instagram and checking in on Foursquare. Part of her job is to handle social media for the company where she works, but even if that’s your job, shouldn’t you be able to unplug for two hours? I’m on Facebook and Twitter, but I didn’t pull my phone out once during our date until the end of the night, when I realized that she just wouldn’t notice or care.
Had she been taking phone calls the entire night, I would have taken the hint and assumed she wasn’t interested in seeing me again. But she has been messaging me about our next date and it’s obvious she is interested. I’m not so sure I am. Is it wrong that I was so put off by her addiction to social media? Should I get with the times and just expect this on dates going forward?
A: Anyone who cannot unplug from social media long enough to enjoy some get-to-know-you conversation over dinner should not be going out on dates. Making phone calls and sending texts from the dinner table are obvious dating don’ts, and constantly updating statuses is no exception. It says, “I might be interested in what you have to say, but I’m more interested in what my friends think of what I have to say.” It’s rude, plain and simple. A single person earnestly trying to connect with another single person shouldn’t have trouble putting the phone away for a couple of hours.
What if you were a chain smoker and had to leave the table every 30 minutes so you could burn one out on the patio? Cigarette smoking is so much of a deal breaker that online daters are expected to disclose the habit in their profiles before being matched up. If you knew ahead of time that your date was addicted to Foursquare, you might have found something better to do than stare at the back of her iPhone all night.
To batter the smoking comparison further: There’s a restaurant in Uptown that I drive by four times a week, at different hours of the evening. Without fail, there is always at least one employee outside smoking, and most often three or four. Not surprisingly, this restaurant has bad table service. How attentive can a server be if he or she is allowed to leave the restaurant, with co-workers, at any time? By constantly pulling out her phone to interact with people other than you, your date is being both inattentive and inconsiderate.
While your date might not equate Instagramming her wedge salad with dragging on a heater between courses, she should at least understand that it’s rude to direct her attention toward others when she’s supposed to be getting to know you. The very purpose of sites like Instagram and Foursquare is to tell as many friends as possible what you’re doing and where you’re doing it. That’s great if she just finished running a 5K or successfully baked her first cake.
However, a first date isn’t something to be paused repeatedly so it can be shared in real time. It’s an opportunity to display our best manners so as to impress just one other person. Sometimes that person wants to see us again (and again), and a romance is born. Your date’s ability to maintain Mayor status of every Sephora in town might impress someone, but it doesn’t sound like that someone is you.