Phone Stacking: Can't We Just Turn The Damn Thing Off?

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I remember going out on a date from hell about nine years ago. The guy, who's name I couldn't remember if a gun was pressed to my head, took me out to a very nice dinner at One If By Land, Two If By Sea in New York...and proceeded to talk on his cell phone the entire time. I'm talking several full-blown conversations. The company might have sucked, but at least I got a good meal as a consolation prize.

At the time, I considered it pretty damn rude to answer a phone during dinner. That was, alas, before social networking sites began practically begging you to share every bite and morsel of food with the entire world. Now, Tweeting about your dinner (OMG! The rolls are warm!) is the norm -- but is it still rude?

I admit I'm guilty of the same behavior. Sometimes when I'm out to dinner with my husband he has to remind me that it's just the two of us at the table -- Suri the iPhone is not invited to dine with us. That gentle prompting is all I need to put away the phone and gaze lovingly at my husband -- and my branzino.

Hence: phone stacking. In case you've been trapped under a large rock, phone stacking is the game invented by Lil-B on Tumblr. Originally called "Don't Be a D**k During Meals With Friends", the game is simple (and meant as both a teaching lesson and a punishment):

1. The game starts after every has ordered.
2. Everyone places their phone on the table face down (or stacks them face down in the middle of the table).
3. The first person to check their phone has to pay the entire tab.
4. If the check comes before anyone checks their phone, everyone is declared a winner and pays their own way.

Sure, having to pick up the tab a few times (especially in Miami) is enough to cure anyone of bad behavior, and it's a great idea, but how far should we go?

Should restaurants, like theaters, institute a no-phone rule? Would you be more or less inclined to eat there? Could you live without Tweeting about your heirloom tomato salad? Without the crutch of Facebook, could you manage to engage in a complete conversation for about an hour?

Should we phone stack, with the emphasis on teaching someone a potentially expensive lesson in manners? Or can we actually self-police ourselves and turn the damn thing off before dining?

The only thing I know is that next time I'm dining in a group, I'm leaving Suri in the car. Just in case she decides to talk up.

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I wish I could turn my phone off during dinner. but as the manager of a restaurant myself, the times I am out to dinner are busy times at my place as well. so I have to be available. it bothers me so much. I just want to shut it off and enjoy a meal uninterrupted. That's why I cant figure out why people who have the luxury to shut it off, don't. 


Although some people are tactful about having to answer their phone when in live conversation with others - talking on the phone while with others is akin to the hold button when you're on a land line - a call comes in and they say - hey, putting you on hold for a minute do you mind? - unless it's an emergency - well, I do mind!  Are they more important than me now?  Usually, I just hang up.  Outside of grabbing their phone and shutting it, don't know what to do these days about this rudeness!


This is partly the reason for the epidemic of people without relationships. All these dating services trying to match clients when all we need to do is pay attention to those around us. Next time you are at dinner or a bar, try making eye contact with a potential love interest instead of your I-Phone.


"Can't We Just Turn The Damn Thing Off?"

Yes we can, and easily. Unless, of course, we're all ill-bred barbarians.

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