Just as a friend and I sat down in a restaurant, he took my cell phone out of my hand and placed it in the middle of the table along with his. He proposed that we keep the cell phones screen facing down and out of our hands the entire meal.
I’m thinking: You mean I can’t answer that text? I can’t Instagram this delicious food? I can’t check us into Foursquare?
Okay, I’m exaggerating, but on some level all of us are guilty. It seems as if every time I go to a restaurant people are texting, taking pictures and posting to Facebook and Twitter. We have an urge to tell people where we are and to prove we have perfect, robust social lives.
With this constant need to show and tell, could we “hold the phone” and just put the technology away for a couple of hours?
Eva Restaurant, a Los Angeles dining destination located in the Fairfax District, recently introduced an incentive to get people away from their mobile devices. The rules are simple: check your cell phone at the door and get five percent off of your entire meal. According to the owner, around 40 percent of patrons accept the offer.
Food brings people together. It’s no wonder our social plans revolve around food – we have coffee, lunch or dinner with someone. Dining together involves trying new cuisines, telling stories and connecting, you know, the old fashion way. Take away the technology and all of a sudden we are fully released to the present moment and truly appreciate our company (and food).
Unfortunately, cell phones are not only an issue at the table. People check their phones incessantly for new calls, texts, @mentions, likes and tags. I attended a concert at the Shrine Auditorium last year and some patrons in front of me were texting and checking Facebook throughout the entire performance. Is technology really so important that we can’t stop to appreciate the music?
If you’re reluctant about decreasing your cell phone usage, just think about life before technology. Before cell phones, iPads and social networking sites we were just fine, maybe even better off. Next time you go to a restaurant, exchange the technology for a wonderful dining experience and the opportunity to connect face to face with someone.
Are you up for the challenge? Can you leave your phone at the door, in your pocket or even switched off?