Welcome to the era of ‘Phone Stacking.’
For the unaware (myself included up until yesterday) ‘Phone Stacking’ is a term used to describe a modern game of manners. When eating out at a restaurant, all parties at a table will stack their phones in the middle of the table and leave them there all evening. The person who touches his or her phone first has to pick up the bill. The goal is to spend an enjoyable evening away from cellular devices, focusing instead on (believe it or not) social interaction, face to face.
There’s even a home version, adapted by The Digital Mom Blog, to whom I owe the pleasure of finding this new idea.
The fact that this game exists is a sad tribute to the fact we are all glued to our 21st century technology. The next time you go out to eat, just take a second to observe the folks around you. The vast majority are on their cell phones, earbuds firmly in place.
I feel like a total hypocrite. I hate seeing people on their phones all the time, yet I’m aware I use my phone when I’m out to eat, especially when I’m alone. It makes me look busy, preoccupied. It gives me something to do. I don’t look so lame and lonely on my own if I’m potentially interacting with my friends over the internet.
But it does something else as well. It puts up a wall, a digital screen preventing people from speaking to me or vice versa. I know I feel like I’m interrupting if I walk up to someone tuned in to their digital devices. By simply focusing my attention on a blue-lighted screen instead of the people around me, I’m robbing myself of life as its happening, instead focusing on a digital universe that isn’t half as amazing and wonderful as God’s own creation.
I hate the fact that I’m the owner of a smartphone. I make a conscious effort to avoid using it in public, but its so easy to glance down for the time and end up playing Farmville.
It kills me to see people in large groups all focused on their screens. I want to run up and snatch those Androids away from them, yelling, “SOCIALIZE!”
Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to hear about Phone Stacking. People recognize the need to step away from technology, it’s just a lot easier said than done. And if a monetary incentive is what it takes, so be it! Especially when going out to eat. Food should be an experience that one focuses all of his or her senses on, and that magic is drained by technology.
Actually, in several high end restaurants, using phones during dinner is prohibited. No texts, no calls, no photographs. Other restaurants are offering a 5% discount off the check if patrons will leave their phones at the host stand. Obviously this takes place in fancy restaurants, not the local Chili’s, but the idea is spreading.
Which begs the question, is that going a little too far?
Even worse, don’t we kind of deserve it?
As a culinarian-in-training, I’m learning a lot about the culinary underworld that average restaurant patrons just don’t see. Perhaps they don’t realize the amount of work and effort that goes into a dish. A chef creating a plate is not just making food, he (or she) is literally extending a piece of themselves to the dining room. Most people never realize how much a compliment means to a chef. It’s a kernel of appreciation. Validation.
So when a patron spends more time focused on his iPhone than he does the dish in front of him, I understand completely why a chef would want phones banned in a restaurant.
Honestly, for a guest entering a nice restaurant anyway, it should be a habit of good manners to simply put the phone away. It’s such a brief amount of time, and it’s a much healthier way to enjoy a meal.
I don’t know. Maybe it is because I’m seeing the culinary world in a whole new light, but I think we should bring phoneless dinners back. Myself included. (No browsing Pinterest during my lunch break.)
What do you think? I’d love some feedback on this issue–technology is an ocean of unstoppable force. How can we combat the lack of screen-free time?
(No, the irony is not lost on me that this blog post requires technology in and of itself, all the while I’m bashing on spending time on my smartphone and laptop.)
Pull out your capslock and type away! I really want to hear people’s opinions.