When I was growing up, my mother and I didn’t share meals. She would eat at the kitchen table while I would either hit the floor in front of the TV, my carefully-arranged food (it could NOT touch) on tray in front of me, or in later years, when sitting on the floor was for babies, in a chair right next to the TV, and dig in.

I don’t remember if I threw a fit to get to sit in front of the TV while I ate and Momma gave in or if she just let me go, enjoying a break she would get from me, but it was a habit that stuck with me until I began to read everything I could get my hands on and words replaced people trapped in an electronic box.

Even now, with my childhood many, MANY years behind me, I still eat most meals while reading something. I snack while watching TV, but if it’s an actual meal, I need something to read. What we learn as kids stays with us much more than we ever realize.

So, I’m not surprised to learn, according to one study, that 88 percent of people eat while staring at some kind of screen. OnePoll, in conjunction with Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps (so you know it’s serious) polled 2,000 people and found it’s mainly phones and laptops that are stared at as food is scarfed down, but TV still has a place for eyes in this world.

People who do this are called Zombie Eaters and 83% said they’ve had food go cold while trying to decide what to watch and 86% have forgotten to eat they were so enamored of their screens.

To break it down even further, 50% said they were either reading or sending emails while eating, 48% were on social media, 37% watched videos on YouTube and 36% said they were doing work related activities. I assume there was some overlap as these numbers go way past 100%.

This has resulted in only 22% of people eating three meals a week at a kitchen table. I find that preposterous. I haven’t eaten a meal at a kitchen table in decades. How are these people doing it three times a week? Don’t they use the kitchen table to pile stuff on as it was meant to be used?

And 45% of people have to get a snack at the same time everyday. Not because they’re hungry, but because they physically and mentally get used to it and the body demands it. Missing that snack isn’t quite the same as being a drug addict and needing a hit, but it can still make you wobbly.

This is being treated as something recent since we all now carry phones that have more computing power than the rockets that went to the moon 50 years ago, but it’s really not. Years before I sat down with my plate of “hamburger crumbs” (I found Hamburger Helper nasty for some reason and wanted my share before it was added to the pan) and happily turned on Scooby Doo or Bugs Bunny or some badly drawn 1970s cartoon, people were pulling chairs up to the TV.

The 1950s saw the creation of TV dinners and TV trays so you could have everything neatly in place as you watched westerns and America’s first forays into situational comedies.

And nothing has really changed since then. Around 1973 or so, my 6-year-old self was given a round tray that part of some detergent promotion. Buy the detergent you get the tray. It has the zodiac symbols on it in a circle for some reason. I still have that tray. I still use it. Family members have gone into shock when they see it. It’s been in my life longer than anything except for the woman who got it for me. It seen more meals than the busiest restaurant.

I know what you’re thinking. “Gross.” But it’s kept clean and looks good for its 46 years. Doesn’t look a day over 35 to be honest. It’s my constant, I guess you could say. The one thing that’s always been there no matter what is happening. I plan to be buried with it, which is odd since I’m going to be cremated. Maybe I’ll see if they’ll stick it in the oven with me. One last well cooked meal for it.

Anyway, we all eat while watching something and it’s leading toward the end of civilization. You’ve been warned.

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