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Dinges: Mind your manners during Thanksgiving dinner. No TV!

Gary Dinges
gdinges@statesman.com
Nationally known etiquette expert Diane Gottsman helped create the Thanksgiving Unplugged campaign.

Technology’s a great thing, but let’s be honest here; we’ve become a little too attached to our high-tech toys. It’s getting harder and harder to step away from our TV sets, iPads, iPods, iPhones, Droids, Blackberrys, laptops, Kindles, Nooks, MP3 players, PS3s and Xboxes. They’re so darn tempting.

What if we set aside all those gadgets for a bit and, you know, actually had meaningful face-to-face conversations with our friends and loved ones? Disconnect … so we can reconnect. That’s the goal of Thanksgiving Unplugged, a campaign being rolled out this holiday season by etiquette experts Diane Gottsman and Thomas (aka Mister Manners) Farley.

“Interaction with an LCD screen should never take the place of interaction with a human being, whether that person is a checkout clerk at the grocery store or your best friend,” Farley said. “People come first.”

Head to their website, thanksgivingunplugged.com, and you’ll find a pledge form you can sign. Not legally binding, of course, but, hey, a promise is a promise, right?

To avoid withdrawal symptoms — seriously, Google “nomophobia” — Gottsman and Farley suggest starting small, maybe by cutting the cord during dinnertime. No texting, no football game blaring on the big screen, no headphones or earbuds … just quality time with people you care about.

“Unplug, even if it’s just for an hour,” Gottsman, owner of the Protocol School of Texas, said. “Don’t bring anything with you to the table. Enjoy your meal and get to know the person sitting next to you or across from you.”

Cellphones, in particular, are a huge problem, Gottsman says. They have in many cases become a tabletop utensil, occupying a spot right next to your knife and fork. They’re distracting and can cause hurt feelings when dining companions think they’re being ignored. It’s something I’m especially guilty of and it has — rightfully so — led to some strained relationships. (Sorry, guys.)

“Your phone starts to flash or vibrate, and you can’t help but look down,” she said. “It’s not that anyone is intentionally being rude.”

Farley, the man behind whatmannersmost.com, is a bit more blunt.

“I think that if you’re truly so busy that you can’t see a show or have dinner without checking your phone multiple times per hour, you probably should just have stayed home,” he said.

The Thanksgiving Unplugged campaign, in its first year, has already garnered significant media attention, with mentions aplenty in newspapers, on websites and on TV news broadcasts. It’s a pleasant surprise for Gottsman and Farley.

“It has really taken off,” Gottsman said. “We are overwhelmed with the response — all of it positive, nothing negative.”

Oh, one last thing: For the especially boorish, Gottsman has some Turkey Day tips for hosts and guests on her website, dianegottsman.com. You’re welcome.

Lineup out for KGSR CD

‘Tis the season … for KGSR’s annual “Broadcasts” CD.

The two-disc set contains 39 songs from a slew of well-known artists, including Ryan Adams, Sara Bareilles, Sheryl Crow, Death Cab for Cutie, Foster the People, Fun., Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Norah Jones, Michael Kiwanuka, Charlie Mars, Bob Schneider (of course) and Spoon.

It will be available Nov. 23 for just $15 at spots around town (read more about the release in Peter Mongillo’s Music Source column on Tuesday):

• Armadillo Christmas Bazaar (Wild About Music booth)

• Antone’s Records

• Barnes & Noble

• Central Market

• Threadgill’s

• Lone Star Music (San Marcos)

• Austin Convention Center and Visitors Bureau

• Piranha Records

• Maudie’s

• Music Mania

• Waterloo Records

• Wild About Music

Read my blog at austin360.com/tvblog or follow @gdinges on Twitter to get the latest updates on local radio and TV stations.