Phone Stacking: The New Dinner Game That, Let's Be Honest, We're All Too Weak to Play

Categories: Complaint Desk

PhoneStack.jpg
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GetKempt had a story this week about a new dinner challenge that's a test of will and stamina. Think quarters, but less eye-hand coordination.

It's called "phone stacking," and it requires everyone, at, say, a dinner party or happy hour, to relinquish their cellulars to the middle of the table and leave them there for the duration of the meal. Be it a game, mandate, stress-test or perhaps welcome relief, it seeks to quell the shit-storm of social media-induced rudeness we've collectively adopted, putting technology ahead of good company.

All rings, dings, beeps, quacks, and blinks are to go unanswered. Taunting you. Laughing at you. Frolicking in the joy of knowing who has done what, where, when and how, while you -- lonely, little you -- must sit amongst friends and focus on them only.

That catch in phone stacking is that the first person to pick up their phone has to buy dinner for everyone else.

A few days after the GetKempt article ran, writer Russell Brandom addressed a few objections to the concept of phone stacking. One repeated plea was, "My job requires me to be on call 24 hours a day."

"No it doesn't; you just like to say that," wrote Brandom.

Checking my phone constantly is an absolutely shameless habit. My phone blinks. And I love its blinking. But that blink can also be like a headlock. Fire alarms, cross walk signals and fallen down old ladies get less attention than that blink.

A while back I was at Oak and noticed soon after arriving that every person down the long bar to my right and left was passing bits and bites with a swipe of their forefinger. My own power game ensued. Should I be a renegade and just sit there and do nothing?

No phone for me, I decided. But, then no one noticed because they were all too busy with texting and browsing. They don't have TVs at Oak, and I got pretty bored pretty quick, which is one reason phones are so handy.

Phones can be shields sometimes, too. They help us avoid conversations and interacting when we specifically don't want to for whatever reason.

But it's one thing when we're passing time or shielding ourselves, another when we're at dinner with friends, which is what phone stacking was built for. Does the urge to check your email trump the friends sitting in front of you? Will a blinking light work your nerves like a termite in wood, gnawing at you until you slap plastic on the table and yell, "I'm out! Dinner's on me!"

I can't wait to stack.


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54 comments
Wagner Gui Tronolone
Wagner Gui Tronolone

In Japan they have "No Phone Areas" in restaurants, bars and even the subway. I think it's awesome!

Suburbanmale08
Suburbanmale08

IMO: Only people feeling compelled to participate in such contrived nonsense to enjoy their company are those who are stick in the mud boring individuals in the first place...  if you are having enough fun then you wont take calls anyways EXCEPT in life and death situations which are far and few in between (if not rare) for most people unless you are on the battlefield in Iraq!  On the otherhand, if you are doing something fun and everyone is laughing it up constantly then you wont even HEAR or FELL (vibration) the phone either.....so the moral of this story is: get a life and leave the gimmicks to the social dead beats who couldn't even charm a fat kid with chocolate cake, let alone a room full of adults!

Tina Eberhardt Stanush
Tina Eberhardt Stanush

I love it. Can't wait to play. I think it is so rude to not give the live person in front of you your attention. Sorry but you need to put the phone down at least for special occasions with loved ones and friends. 

@theburbanist
@theburbanist

I remember going out a few years ago with friends after the iPhones came out and social media was taking off. I saw each person pull back from the conversation, fuss with their phone, then rejoin the group. I was floored and fascinated by the new burgenoning mores. Now we are so enmeshed in the damn things I'm surprised we don't order it a cocktail and a meal. (They do come in handy, though, if you are trying to figure out what cavolo nero is)

aspenite skier
aspenite skier

When my fiance and I first started dating, we went on cell phone free dates.  No disruption from the time together.  I think it is a habit we will continue until we have kids and are required to be reachable... Until then, we will reveal in our disruption-free and blissful date nights. 

Andrew McKenzie
Andrew McKenzie

At first, I was like "I would so win this game, since I don't have a cell phone. "

But then it occurred to me that if there's a barroom wager or a disputed question, a cell phone lets us check the answer right away.  So the phone wouldn't even have to be mine for me to be taunted by the allure. 

Damn it.

Scris
Scris

I have a special needs child. He requires 24 hour care. I don't get on my phone to look on Facebook or to chat with friends when I'm out to eat. However, sometimes his nurse will text message me if she has a question. Last time I turned my phone off I got a call on a friends phone that my son was on his way to the hospital by ambulance. I haven't turned it off since. So I'm sorry if I take a phone call while I'm at dinner, but for me it can be life or death.

Anna A
Anna A

Thank god someone is finally addressing how people socialize with their phones more than with the people right in front of them. It's one of my biggest pet peeves amongst long time friends and new friends alike . Hopefully people will embrace phone stacking and enjoy their face-to-face time with friends and loved ones.

Bighairedbarbie
Bighairedbarbie

My phone died a few days ago.. I was sick and didn't feel like the hassle of getting a new one. Best 48 hours sleep I've ever had. Love this idea! No check ins, no comments on Facebook, and no tweets.

Yep, let's do it!

Will
Will

Well, this assumes that people can actually afford to cover the bill for everyone. I haven't always been in a position where I could do that and most of my friends currently can't.

Also, my last job had a rotating on call person and that person did need to be on call at all times.

That being said, I do put my phone away once we take our seats. I won't use it unless I need to looks up something that comes up in conversation.

MattL1
MattL1

This is the best idea ever.  I hate it when people fidget with their phones when they're at dinner with me.  This even works if you're dining alone (something I do frequently).  

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

The other night, the boy and I were out to dinner. We watched as another father and son sat across from us: The kid -- around my son's age, 8 -- played on his hand-held gaming system throughout the entire meal. But perhaps he was just bored: His dad never once put down his iPad. So depressing.

foodbitch
foodbitch

I recently dined with a woman wearing her douchetooth who took a call once (maybe twice? I couldn't really tell) during the meal. She just started talking to whoever was on the other end of the line in the middle of our conversation. It was really confusing for the rest of us as we tried to figure out if it was like an odd language barrier thing or if she was schizophrenic or what.

dallas_paul
dallas_paul

Add iPad (or whatever brand of tablet) to that list. Imagine dining with someone with both iPad and iPhone open throughout the meal. I have a new iTan from the iGlare.

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

Last night I ate at Cosmic Cafe and gentleman next to me (sitting at a table with another dude) took at least five phone calls. I was alone surfing the twitt, so I listened as he took each one, stringing the conversations together as he ate. I think his date said maybe 10 words.  What an evening.

therrick
therrick

I call people out who can't keep of their phone when we are at dinner. Usually along the lines of,"I'm sorry we are so fucking boring that you can't keep off your phone for 2 minutes." That often shames them enough to put it away.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

I like my phone, I love twitter, I want to know the up to the minute news, but for fucks sake people, is it that hard to put the phone down for 30 minutes or an hour.  Another annoying thing I DESPISE, is the bluetooth piece.  Do you really need to leave it in your ear while we are at the table drinking or eating.  Then you keep asking people to repeat themsleves bc you didint hear them. 

My favorite character is 3 piece douche.....hes the guy eating a burger with on hand, surfing the net on his phone in the other hand with his blue tooth piece in.  Oh yeah, he likes to let everyone how important he is

LaurenDrewesDaniels
LaurenDrewesDaniels

The article I sourced (first word) was published the day before the one you sourced at gizmodo. I quote the author and linked to it twice. I'm all about giving credit where credit is due. Thanks. 

Fletch
Fletch

Sounds like you have a perfectly valid excuse, which is more than the vast majority of these people could say.

Guest
Guest

Expecting a call to arms to go to Iran?

Reallly???
Reallly???

Then put it on vibrate and keep it in your pocket--when the call to arms comes, excuse yourself and take it private.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Seriously? Who takes their iPad out of their house unless they're traveling? I'm sure it happens, but damn, that's pushing it.

Yep
Yep

Have you tried being less boring?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

The people I see with Bluetooth headsets always look like the least likely people to be getting phone calls at all.

Prep7213
Prep7213

You all are retarded. In the military, we are soldiers every hour of the day. We are on call even when your asses are sleep. As leaders in the military, we are responsible for the lives of young men and women no matters the time. I guess none of you have gotten the call in the middle of the night telling you to pack your shit to leave in an hour for a land far away? Never had to answer for some young kid that got caught drinking and driving? As far as WWII is concerned, I can bet that he had to sign out olwith staff duty and specify exactly where he would be and at what times every day. A runner would then have to personally go get him and others. With the advent of technology, the alerts come easier and quicker. You knock technology yet, it is these same methoids that get the doctors to the hospital in time to save lives. Sometimes people need to stop talking or in this case writing and think.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Did he have to keep a window open at all times for the pigeon?

The Royal Wii
The Royal Wii

Tried that but couldn't resist the urge to continually borrow friends phones and call myself.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

I take my iPad almost everywhere, because I use the Kindle app a lot for reading. So I have an honest question. If I had a paper book and was reading it at the table, would that be less annoying than reading a digital book?

My husband and I frequently bring reading material to dinner out — him usually a Stereophile magazine and me a book or eBook. Is that rude? We still enjoy each other's company, even without conversation.

(Asking honestly, not rhetorically, beuase I often feel like a ostentatious asshat reading my iPad in public, but I looooove to read and rarely have enough time for it.)

Beda
Beda

If I'm dining solo I always take my iPad so that I can read (it takes the place of books, magazines).  But being on either an iPad or cell phone while dining with others is so rude.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

I see people at the bar with them all the time

therrick
therrick

See it doesn't matter how boring I am or mind-numbingly stupid you are. Rude is rude.

The Royal Wii
The Royal Wii

I always just assume tha6t they are BORG and avoid them accordingly.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED.

Bmlshield
Bmlshield

We call it tge "blacktooth". For obvious and statistical reasons

Rick Henson
Rick Henson

 Brittanie,

I see that this conversation is three months time late. However, I want to applaud your relationship with your husband. You have together made choices that you are both comfortable with and others should not be so quick to judge what is right and what is wrong with you and yours.

I find it a perfect choice to understand each others wants, needs and desires enough to choose to read at the dinner table. It is not my choice but that does not lessen to any degree your ability to do what is right for you.

I find the concept that others degrade your lifestyle choices amusing as I envision this happening more in the future as we evolve in society. I encourage you to think not of what others think of you and live your life to the fullest and make every day the best it can be for Brittanie.

Rick

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

Your mansplanatory comment is too out of nowhere to not be performance art, so I'm going to just laugh it off and assume that you don't go around all day suggesting total strangers seek marital counseling.

Mushmouth Thomas
Mushmouth Thomas

Speaking from the perspective of a recently divorced person, my ex-wife and I used to do the same thing. It's just a way of escaping/avoiding/distracting. She would constantly surf Facebook on her phone, and I would read a book on my Sony Reader or play video games. After we decided to divorce, I stopped reading anywhere near as much, and I've almost stopped playing video games entirely. I'm not really sure why that is, but I guess maybe there's nothing to escape anymore. In your situation, I would think about trying to reconnect or going to counseling. In this age of abundant distractions, marriages seem to fall by the wayside very easily, and you have to be diligent about maintaining your connection or otherwise potentially losing it.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

As long as you're okay with people seeing it and thinking you're got some sort of anti-social disorder or tech addiction, go right ahead. And they could very well be wrong about that, but you're always going to have people puzzled if you're buried in a device at a table with someone else there with you.

It could be completely warranted or even necessary for you to be using it, but people's perception will be that it's wrong. And I'll fully admit I'd probably be puzzled myself witnessing it.

LaurenDrewesDaniels
LaurenDrewesDaniels

I think it's cool that you feel comfy enough with your husband that you can do your own thing and just enjoy being with each other. And reading at a restaurant alone can honestly be a really great escape. Remember how when cell phones came out we all felt weird talking on them in public? Embrace your ipad and read up. However, it would be completely different if you pulled it out with a group of friends or a kid. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

I guess it depends on the situation.  If you dined on the patio and then stayed for an adult beverage or somesuch and then you both read, I wouldnt see a problem, but if you are readin and eating at the same time, Id think you were an asshat.  why go out to dinner with each other, if you dont want to conversate or at least enjoy the atmosphere you chose to be in.

Agdjenn
Agdjenn

You should really hate on the college students who take theirs with them to the cafe to study together with their friendly lifeforms.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Forgot about that aspect of it. I don't care what anyone does if they're dining solo, but I'd think rather poorly of someone with an iPad at a table with any other lifeforms.

The Credible Hulk
The Credible Hulk

Wow, you can actually go on a *Date* your internet-porn fantasy girl, now.

Screw flying cars, THIS is what the future looks like.

Yep
Yep

I dunno ... what's more rude: talking on a phone, or being a boring dinner guest? I mean, if you're not worth the attention of your associates, why'd you even agree to come? How rude!

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