Have you ever been out to dinner with a friend and all they keep doing is checking their cell phone? Well, I know I have, and I really cannot stand it. Although, it is a bit hypocritical for me to say that since I am also one to check my phone at dinner if I get a text or just need to look something up quickly.
A recent article in CNN addressed this issue and explained how many restaurants are trying to have as little cell phone use as possible while dining.
A professor at New York University, Anna Akbari, has been a big advocate for this and suggested that restaurants play what is called the “phone stack” game where everyone at the table puts their phone in the middle and does not touch it until everyone is done eating. Whoever touches their cell phone first has to pay for the check.
Several restaurants have taken Akbari’s advice and created a few of their own rules in order for people to stop using their cell phones while dining.
The restaurant Bucato located in Los Angeles does not allow any kind of cell phone use even if it’s just to text or take a photo. Customers are strongly encouraged to not pay any attention to them while eating because according to the general manager of the restaurant, Ed Keebler, cell phone use causes what he calls “gastro ADD.”
Rogue 24, a restaurant in Washington, D.C., also does not welcome cell phone use while their diners are eating. In 2011, it created a contract the costumers had to sign before they had begun to eat their meal, which promised they would not use their cell phones. Although this contract does not exist anymore, cell phone use is still deeply discouraged.
In Malibu, Calif. there is a restaurant by the name of Malibu Kitchen & Gourmet Country Market which has its own a strict policy. There is a “to-the-point sign” diners see when they walk into the restaurant and are about to order which says, “You decide which is more important. Ordering food or talking on the cell phone. You won’t be waited on until the phone is off and put away.”
Cell phone use can be quite a distraction, not only in restaurants, but in classrooms as well. Akbari explained that when she teaches, her students are not allowed to use cell phones at all the entire class period. They are given a 10-minute break and can use their mobile device for that short period of time, but after that it must be turned off once again.
She explained that students find it extremely hard to have their cell phones off for such a long period of time just in case someone tries to get a hold of them, such as a parent or significant other. But being free of technology during class time is valuable since it allows students to fully engage in what it is they are being taught.
“After the anxiety dissipates [from not being able to check their phones while in class], something foreign happens to them: they become present. They stop multitasking. They stop switching their attention between screens. They listen. They make eye contact. And we go into a collective flow-state. It’s at once stimulating and relaxing,” Akbari explained.
Even though I agree with Akbari’s ways of trying to disconnect from the cell phone in restaurants and classrooms, it may be hard for professionals to not be able to check their phones since many might have jobs where they are on-call and need to answer their phone whenever they get a call.
However, we should all at least try abstaining from our cell phones while we are in these situations since it really might help us fully engage in what we are doing at that moment. And if one absolutely needs their cell phone on them in case they are expecting a phone call, I am sure most professors or restaurants will be OK with that.
Christina Danno is a senior philosophy and English studies major, as well as a columnist and copyeditor for The Vidette. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org