HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Energetic Noise or distraction?

With more and more frequency (pun intended) restaurants are instaling televisions within the dining space which I believe the purpose is to enhance the dining experience of the customer. Perhaps, this purpose is a more successful for venues such as, bars or lounges; however, this amenity is less successful in the main dining area.

Televisions are common place within the public space, these days even gas pumps have TV monitors and there is even a billboard along the freeway that is a large TV. I find my senses being over inundated with sounds and images to the point when I find it difficult to filter the information for the bits that I might find interest. I found that I exert less effort just ignoring this type "pollution" than trying to extract some benefit from the messages that for the most part are just useless streaming chatter.

And so, when I walk into a restaurant and see walls plastered with flatscreen televisions I already have a negative impression of the ambiance of the establishment; loud TVs, louden costumers attempting to talk over the TVs, and employees pausing from their work to gaze at a monitor (I was once ignored by a Host who waited to acknowledge my presense until the stream he was watching had ended!).

OK, so what do I want in my perfect world? I want to focus on enjoying my meal, I want to spend time communicating with my dining partner in an environment that doesn't overload my visual and audio senses and for the most part doesn't distract my attention from the person I'm dining with. I don't expect restaurants to be noiseless. And furthermore, I anticipate my oberservation not to be of the consensus. But I think what needs to be considered is how this technology of streaming digital sound bites is a distraction for a customer's frame of mind to pleasant dining experience.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I cant imagine there is more to say on this topic past this 172 (!) post thread:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/824728

    ENJOY!

    1. More casual places put in TVs. Its not my preference, but as long as restaurant owners think they draw customers that way, I think the trend will continue.

      I've never seen a TV in a Thai restaurant. Perhaps a fine Thai restaurant could be your refuge.

      The TVs I see are almost always tuned to sports, although I've seen a TV or two tuned to a news channel, and once I experienced in a long line at a motel, a barrage from Fox TV. I was mad enough that day to walk right out of the place. I didn't, but I disliked the expensive motel from that hour forward, and would never go back.

      If places have to have the TV on, I guess sports is a good choice, especially for the male patrons.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sueatmo

        Two Thai restaurants tha I frequent both have tvs.

        1. re: Vidute

          That hasn't been my experience. Sounds like casual restaurants are moving in this direction.

          I guess for casual dining, you could visit Panera then.

        2. re: sueatmo

          Sripraphai has a TV and their food can be quite fine.

        3. I made a quick stop at the local mini-mart the other day. There were probably 5-6 people in line and one cashier. I noticed him staring at something over my head and thought - this must be some sports game he's watching. I turned around to look, and it was the store's security camera he was watching, since he was the only one working.

          1. OLMace, you are 100% correct, but what we are dealing with is the 80% of the nation of sheep American public that have to be entertained or "engaged" in something the entire time they are awake. Hell, I don't know why they have TV's (except for sports bars) They are all fooling around texting or on the phone. To my irritation anyway.

            7 Replies
            1. re: mrbigshotno.1

              I plead guilty. Since Mr. Sueatmo and I got our smart phones, we have our noses in them all the time. I was so surprised to see my life partner engrossed in his phone in a restaurant, that I began doing the same thing.

              Its not the worst thing in the world. It isn't as if we haven't had all the important conversations already, after 40+ years together. And we aren't watching over kids or anything. If its just the two of us, we are both catching up on news while we wait for dinner.

              Try not to be so irritated, OK?

              1. re: sueatmo

                You spending dinner together on your phones....well that's your decision. Me having to eat in a restaurant with people who can't cut the cord to their TV for a dinner with "friends" they have nothing to say to so they all have to have the TV on to give them a common cause, well that's different. I now go out infrequently and usually when I can sit outside where they have yet to put TVs.....though I am sure it is coming.

                1. re: escondido123

                  Dear Escondido: I talk to Mr. Sueatmo every day. He might even suggest I talk to him too much. However, we do communicate. So sue me, if I have a look at my smartphone when he does.

                  I wouldn't mess with my phone if my kids were across the table. I don't see them that often.

                  It is pointless to spend mental energy condemning people whom you don't know because of their smartphone browsing habits. You can't know why they do what they do.

                  I admit I deplore parents of young children who don't seem to be paying attention to their kids, because of smartphone use, but you know, it isn't my business.

                  1. re: sueatmo

                    Believe me, I don't spend much mental energy on it. My husband made the decision to get a touch screen phone of some kind and after two months realized he never used it and the monthly bill was outrageous. He paid to end the contract and now I use that phone as a camera once in awhile and we just stick with our $100 a year cell phones that only get used between the two of us, usually when we forget the shopping list at home.

                    1. re: escondido123

                      We ditched our landline, and we love our smartphones. I confess to checking stuff while waiting for food. I love it when a restaurant has wi-fi. I've left the phone once in a restaurant, but that had a happy ending. I don't use the phone when I eat.

                      To each his own.

                      1. re: sueatmo

                        I have to admit I find it odd watching a couple sit and play with their iphones/smartphones. Admittedly, I love my iphone but it's shut off when I'm in a restaurant....
                        Seems like the only place where they shouldn't be turned on but that's just my opinion, obviously.
                        It was lovely, a few nights ago, watching an older couple (in their '70's) enjoying each other's company, having a few laughs and sharing a bottle of wine...
                        It was their 40th...and they still had lots to talk about.....it was inspiring.

              2. re: mrbigshotno.1

                "80% of the nation of sheep American public"

                And don't forget the 100% of the people who overuse this exceedingly tired cliché.

              3. TVs usually don't bother me. BUT the other day we went into a small place for lunch. They had 3 TVs, each on a different channel, all with the volume up. They also had music playing. AND they were installing 2 new booths. So there were sounds of football, tennis, news, power tools and salsa music all at once. Our dining options were limited at that moment and we were really hungry, so we stayed. By the end of our mediocre meal I was so overwhelmed with noise I had to sit quietly in the hotel room for an hour just to recover!

                1. Sadly, it is difficult for many people to be alone with themselves. They might have to think.

                  1. Neither restaurants nor gas stations in my experience have such television placement.

                    Television in the dining room? Not where I dine.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: FrankJBN

                      When I was a teenager we didn't have a TV, so I either watched it at friends' houses or I'd go over to a favorite café that was run by a very nice couple. The café functioned as their living room in the evenings, and they and their few evening customers would sit and watch TV; their taste was about the same as mine, including the "highbrow" drama shows such as Playhouse 90. I'd get a large 7-Up and maybe a big Payday candy bar and nurse them for a couple of hours, never asking for anything except during commercials …

                      That was then. TV is no longer a rare novelty, it's gotten louder and more eye-grabbing, and unless I'm in a bar watching a game or something I would much rather share my meal only with good company or my own thoughts. There was a Macanese café for a while, down in San Gabriel, whose food I liked very much, but then they installed enough large-screen TVs that there was no video-free spot in the place. Maybe that's why they went out of business? Don't know, but they lost mine.

                    2. <I want to spend time communicating with my dining partner>

                      I agree with you, wholeheartedly, however I'm afraid that we've reached a point where that 'sound in the background' or the ring of a cellphone is something more and more people are needing to keep their world 'right'.
                      Over stimulation and mental multi-tasking in many parts, is just part of the life they choose to lead.