I’ll be honest: I hate it when I’m out to dinner with a friend or date and they suddenly check their phone mid-conversation. Now I’m going to be even more honest: I’m guilty of doing it too. So why am I annoyed with others when I am just as guilty of the same crime? I think it comes down to the whole “I have a good excuse for doing it” reasoning, where we are always able to justify our own actions while simultaneously condemning others who do as we do.
For me, it’s not a control issue when it comes to other people using their phone in my presence. It’s more of an “Oh, I guess I’m not interesting enough to hold your attention span for less than ten minutes” type of thing. And why do I do it? As a writer who is constantly emailing with my editors and interviewees, not to mention being an aspiring novelist, there’s always the chance that the next email I receive could be the one that will change my life. Maybe it’s that one agent finally getting back to me, requesting an additional twenty-five pages of my manuscript or offering me representation. Or maybe it’s my editor offering me the cover story of the next issue and I have to fly to France next week to interview some rock ‘n roll god. You get the picture. Or sometimes it’s simply because I changed my profile picture on Facebook to a cute new selfie that my boyfriend and I took the other day and I’m dying to see how many likes it has gotten in the past hour. Oh, the need for virtual validation.
Well, if you happen to be in the Chicago area or planning a trip there sometime in the near future, you should definitely look into going on a date at The Florentine, a restaurant that offers diners a digital-free experience. What exactly does this entail? It’s a modern twist on a traditional concept: You check your phone at the door, along with your coat, if you wish.
According to an article on nbcchicago.com, the restaurant’s general manager Amanda Kipp said that the decision was made after noticing lots of distracted diners with the blue lights from their phone screens lighting up their faces across the room. She said, “We were noticing a lot of distracted diners, and I go out a lot and you just see people around you using their phones and not communicating with anyone at the table. I have a rule with my friends that we don’t text or email at dinner, because as soon as you pick it up, you’re on it for the next 10 or 15 minutes.”
The new phone check service has only been available for a few days, but according to Kipp it’s going really well and feedback has been positive thus far. Added bonus? You can charge your phone while it is checked, so by the time dinner is over and you reclaim your phone, it’s ready to go for the rest of the night. Then you can text, tweet and “like” all you want.