Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Social media is making my soup cold

Ordering was a breeze before social media interrupted the restaurant experience. You’d look at a menu, choose what you wanted, tell the server, then talk for a few moments until the apps arrived.

Now you’re a good 12 minutes into the visit before the menu’s scrutinized. First, there’s checking in via Four Square. Otherwise, how’re you going to get your points and badges? They bring you nothing other than the right to tell the wife, “I just got a badge for blah-blah-blah.” She responds with the sort of look Charlie Sheen must know well.

Then there’s checking in via your phone’s Facebook app. And why not? Isn’t it essential your friends know where you’re eating?
And don’t forget checking in on Yelp You’ve got a foodie rep to preserve.

By that time the server has flitted past three or four times to see if the pen can be uncapped to take orders. No such luck. More networking may need to be done.

If someone saw your Facebook alert, there might be a comment posted. How can you not check, read it, and respond? If could be a recommendation of what to order.

If you’re lucky, maybe the rest of the party orders appetizers for the table. Then you’re off the keypad until the food arrives. This is why cell phones have cameras. An image has to go on Flickr or Facebook.

Eating is when the pressure really builds. Enjoying the food is one thing. Sounding smart in your Yelp or Urban Spoon review is the challenge. And what if, God forbid, you’re the only citizen reviewer who loves or hates it?

I’m as much of a social media fan as anyone. But I wouldn’t mind if you could hand over your smart phone during a meal the way you check your coat. Certainly it’d help with table turns.

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