There is a new phenomenon in the modern world that I call “living in your future memories.” People are so busy taking pictures of events to look at later that they aren’t living in the actual moment. Don’t let your life pass by in a series of social media selfies. Live in the present.

Let me explain. A few years ago I had gotten a new camera that had a setting for fireworks. When the Fourth of July came around I eagerly took photos of our local fireworks display for a blog post. Afterwards I realized I didn’t really watch the fireworks because I was too busy taking pictures to look at later. So instead of enjoying the holiday I was left with pictures that proved I was there.

On a related note, I read an interesting article about a restaurant that was getting bad reviews from its customers. The reviews said the service was slow and that it was taking too long to get through dinner. The owners decided to study security footage from inside the restaurant from ten years earlier and compare it to footage from a recent night.

They discovered that people were spending so much time on their phones they were not paying attention to dinner. When the waiters tried to take their order, the people were busy looking at their phones and hadn’t looked at the menu yet. They asked the waiter to come back in a few minutes. When the food arrived, they spent time taking pictures of it, then sent it back complaining it was cold. The food was delivered hot, but the patrons spent so much time on their phones and taking pictures instead of eating that they let the food get cold.

Ten years earlier, people came into the restaurant, ordered, ate, and enjoyed themselves in a timely manner.

The average dinner at the restaurant was now 50 minutes longer. This was not because the restaurant was doing things differently, but because the customers were spending so much time on their phones.

Wouldn’t you like to enjoy dinner with the company of good friends, savor the aromas, enjoy the flavors, have pleasant conversation, a few laughs, maybe a little romance? Or would you rather look at pictures of your food on your phone later? What could be so compelling on your phone that you’re distracted from living your life in that moment?

Unless you are a food writer, do you really need to take pictures of your meal?

I encourage you to put the phone away. Use it for emergencies, use it for business, use it to connect with people, but don’t let it interfere with actually living.

I write often about what I call the La Dolce Vita Lifestyle, which is all about taking your time, savoring your food, and experiencing moments with others in real life. People today seem to be unable to put their phones down, not even to enjoy a meal or a date. Even their children are staring into devices instead of interacting with their friends and family.

Ten years from now are you really going to look at that picture of your shrimp appetizer? Or would you rather remember how it tasted and who you shared it with?

Put the phone down. Live in the present.