I was offended when restaurants started putting up televisions. At the time, I complained that eating out was about more than not having to cook. Eating out was, is, and always will be a time to enjoy a good meal with people that I love or at least like a whole lot. That means that we spend an exhorbitant amount of time deciding where we will eat and then spend just as long of a time deciding what we will eat.
Once those big decisions are made, I want to hear about Hank’s day. I like to spend the time we are waiting on our food discovering if there is any place he wants to visit or an adventure he wants to go on. If it seems as if we’ve run out of things to say, I ask him to tell me a story about his childhood. And I want him to ask me questions, tell me how much he loves me, and simply enjoy my company.
Living in PCB, we have friends who come here for vacation and we meet up for dinner. When I’m with them I want to know what’s going on in their lives.
So you can imagine that if televisions in restaurants offended me then I’m totally ticked with cellphones.
And I’m not the only one who feels this way. On Friday, I heard a story about another man who got sick and tired of cellphones in his London Pub. I’ll let you read the story here……
There was a time when people went to bars to talk to other people, maybe even meet someone new. But that was in the BC era — before cellphones.
“I’ve been in the pub industry for a long time, and progressively it’s become less and less social and more and more antisocial,” Steve Tyler, the owner of the Gin Tub in Sussex, England, tells NPR’s Scott Simon.
And that’s bad for business. So Tyler wanted to bring back the conversation, and he did by turning his bar into a Faraday cage — a 19th-century invention that reflects electromagnetic fields and conducts currents around, rather than inside, an enclosure.
He installed copper wire mesh in the bar’s ceiling and tin foil on the walls, effectively blocking cell phone signals from getting into the establishment.
Tyler says that, because it doesn’t send a signal to jam phones, the setup is totally legal. But just in case, the Gin Tub has a sign at its entrance that tells people exactly what they’re getting into: “No Wi-Fi, no signal, just friends.”
A week in, Tyler says that people are loving the change.
“I think I’ve hit a nerve in the world, that I think it’s rude, and I think society has accepted people on their phones in bars and in places where it’s socially unacceptable,” he says.
He hasn’t seen sight of any imitators, but Tyler is confident that his approach — or at least the general idea — will win out.
“I think this is gonna be the new way forward for restaurants and bars and clubs,” he says.
Without phones in their hands, people are no longer drinking in silence but instead talking with each other. Tyler says that’s how bars were intended.
“It’s like Cheers, the TV program, when you walk in everyone knows your name,” Tyler says. “Well, there are no pubs now where everyone knows your name.”
That is, except within the Faraday cage.
You and I probably won’t go into any restaurants or pubs that are blocking wi-fi. But we can choose to leave our phones in the car. Or we can do what Michael Symon does and challenge everyone at the table to play a game with us. And that game is called…..
Whoever picks up their phone first pays for dinner.