QR Code Menus Will be Our Downfall
Of all the slightly annoying changes made by restaurants over the last few years (yes, I am referring to the iPad that asks you to give a 25% tip at your favorite takeout spot), the one I am most annoyed by is the surge in QR code menus. I believe that the QR code menu will be the final, digital nail in the sacrosanct coffin that is our dinner table.
My argument is simple: it permits guests to go on their phones while dining. At most restaurants, a big portion of the entire dining experience- perhaps a fourth or so- is spent with a menu in hand. Time spent with the menu, traditionally an opportunity for menu-based discussion (“Hey, what do you think about splitting the Fettuccine Alfredo?”, “Pass the menu, you are hogging it”, “Oh fuck, this is actually the wine menu, no wonder there is no food”, “No, unfortunately I can’t do the Fettuccine Alfredo on account of my irritable bowel” ), is now spent looking down at your phone. Conversation becomes less engaging, eye contact more sparse. Patron’s faces remain illuminated, though the source of their glowing countenance is no longer the smile of the person sitting across from them.
And it isn’t really just the first quarter of the meal. Because now everyone’s phone is out of their pocket or handbag and on the table- face down if they have a scruple of couth, face up they were born after 2000. So now the phones are on the table and everyone is permitted the occasional glance- a glance that might have been a bit more infrequent had it necessitated hand wrestling your pocket to get your Android 9 out of your Rag & Bone skinnies. Plus, the tone has been set. A dinner culture has been established in which quickly checking your phone ever so often is O.K.
And of course the aforementioned only applies to guests who bring a smartphone to dinner. God forbid you show up to a nice dinner with friends you haven’t seen since college without your mobile device. Or a mobile device that's out of battery. In that case, I suppose you must starve. Or you can ask the person to your left, Jeremy, who was on the fringe of your college friend group and shouldn't have even really been invited to this dinner, if you can look at his phone. So now you are craning your neck in an attempt to read the small print on Jeremy's phone as he frantically swipes up the continuous stream of Hinge message notifications he's getting from a girl named Sophia. And he is hoping that you aren't sure what those alerts were because you're 34 and don't know what a Hinge notification looks like, but you do know what a Hinge notification looks like because you are also lonely. And you just wish you had charged your fucking Android.
In a world where we spend more and more time on our phones, we need ‘phone sanctuaries’- times and places where using your telephone is taboo. Movie theaters. The driver's seat of an automobile. Cemeteries. Dinner tables.
If you enjoyed today’s moot, consider donating to Save the Children, Brett’s charity of choice.
*For each moot, we generate a cover image using DALL·E, an AI art platform that generates images using natural language processing. This image on the right was generated using the title, 'QR Code Menus Will Be Our Downfall' in the style of Edward Hopper, Brett's artist of choice.*