Cell phones and technology have seeped into virtually every part of our lives, leaving only a few nooks and crannies completely tech-free.
I am hardly ever more than a few inches from both of my phones, and only on rare occasions am I more than an arm's length from my shoulder bag that is filled to the brim with all sorts of gadgets. I have grown to rely on technology over the years. And it being my livelihood, I'm not inclined to leave tech behind very often. (You never know when a work opportunity will arise!)
There are times when I disconnect, even if its just for a few minutes to talk to friends or for a weekend. And there are times of the day when my devices get a rest and I go without. During my morning shower each day, my phones stay in the bedroom to avoid the dangers of condensation. And once my head hits the pillow, it's charge time for devices. They (usually) stay on the night stand. I also leave my technology alone as much as possible when I'm spending time with family, especially for holidays. And if I'm with a bunch of friends, I try not to be that guy since I'm already viewed as some kind of fiend.
Even in times like these, though, I've been known to sneak a peek at my notification bar or my Twitter timeline. Even when I need a disconnect, I cheat sometimes. We all do.
But what if we were incentivized to temporarily leave our devices behind? A restaurant in Los Angeles is offering just that reports Mashable. At Eva Restaurant, customers are allowed to check their technology (phones, tablets, Bluetooth headsets, etc.) in at the door for a five percent discount on their check.
Mark Gold, owner and chef at Eva Restaurant values the age-old connection many of us have thrown to the wayside as of late, face to face communication and socialization. "This discount, of course, suggests that the restaurant feels there’s something to be gained from keeping people disconnected," says Mashable's Zoe Fox. Gold considers the offer "a tactic to avoid distracted dining," explains Fox.
“It’s really not about people disrupting other guests. Eva is home, and we want to create that environment of home, and we want people to connect again."
"It’s about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone, and we’re trying to create an ambiance where you come in and really enjoy the experience and the food and the company.”
While I can't speak for the atmosphere or food Gold's restaurant offers, I know exactly where he's coming from and I can't say I disagree with his views. More than once, we here at PhoneDog have spoken on tech at the dinner table. A little over a year ago, I wrote a piece titled The need for cell phone mealtime etiquette. And just last week, Evan gave an anecdotal account of a family whose parents were oblivious to the world while the children munched down. He asked, "Do you bring a device to the dinner table?"
While my pockets may be filled with gadgets at the dinner table, it's one place I don't necessarily like to use my phones a lot. They generally stay tucked away. But there have been recent episodes where I pull my phone out as a result of the lady friend checking her Facebook. And, from time to time, I like to take a picture and share some food porn to Instagram.
So long as the conversation continues and doesn't grow stagnant, though, I feel a little tech is okay. But when the food arrives, it's usually chow time, so tech is off the table (or to the side and upside down) and unattended. There is little that gets under my skin than someone who can't put their phone down long enough to enjoy the world and people around them.
If I were incentivized, you better believe I would surrender my tech at the door and pick it up on the way out. I could definitely stand to have a few completely tech-free meals. Five percent may be a rather insignificant amount (particularly depending on where you're dining). However, it's a very gratuitous service that could greatly impact how you (and your family or loved ones) approach dinner.
It does the mind and body good to disconnect from time to time, if only for an hour.
Personally, I like what Gold is doing at Eva Restaurant. And I can only hope others follow their lead. Tech-free meals are a rarity in this day and age. Let's bring them back. What say you? Would you leave your tech at the door for a small incentive? Do you hope more restaurants do the same?