Photo: Marko Cvetkovic/Shutterstock

Stop Texting, or Foot the Bill

by Anne Merritt Jan 10, 2012
Don’t be a dick during meals with friends.

That’s the name of a new game that’s enforcing etiquette and testing the nerves of smartphone addicts.

Also called “the phone stack,” this game was cooked up by a 20-year-old blogger in California.

The rules? When out to dinner with friends, everyone stacks their phone together, face down. The first person to check their phone loses the game, and has to foot the bill for the group. If nobody checks their phone, each person can pay their own cheque and leave knowing they’re not desperately tech-dependent.

Is the game harmless fun, or a Debbie Downer move?

I love the idea. Nothing grates me more than talking to someone who is half tuned out, texting. My blood boils when someone answers the phone at the table and gabs on, halting all conversation around them. I heard a story of a group dinner where one dude was on his iPhone all night, not texting or emailing, but playing chess with himself. I would have screamed.

As a teacher, I’m no stranger to having the “put away your phone” talk, and it’s a drag. While I can set those standards in a classroom, though, there’s no breezy way of telling a friend, “stop fiddling with the App Store and listen to me.” It’s hard to call someone out on bad phone etiquette without coming across as scolding. Hardly the mood for a good night out.

With the phones stacked up and out of the way, folks can focus on the conversations around them. No one has to be an etiquette nag.

The folks at Kempt suggest some caveats to the rule. Childbirth, sick relatives, or a recent first date or job interview are a few.

Even if someone falls short of these exceptions, I’m sure no one will get too irked. It’s a free dinner, after all.

Though maybe, when introducing the game, avoid the phrase “Don’t be a dick.” Just sayin’.

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