The Phones at the Dinner Table Game

When I attended a one-year-old’s birthday party a few weeks ago, some of the adults stood around the snack table and proposed the following game for when going out to dinner with friends: Everyone stacks their phones at the center of the table. The first person who reaches for their phone at any time during the meal pays for dinner. If no one reaches for their phone, everyone splits the meal.

“But what if—” I began.

“No what ifs,” the adults said. “You’re going to pay for dinner.”

“Okay, but if a person reaches for her phone and it turns out to be an emergency, I’m going to pay for myself,” I offered.

“The game’s the game,” the adults said.

I thought about that conversation today because apparently, this isn’t a novel idea. In fact, there’s an app for it (there’s an app for most things, it seems).

They look like they’re having fun.

To be honest, I’m not really into these kinds of games. Is it really that hard to put your phone away during dinner and not think about it until dinner’s—hey, look at me. I’m trying to make a point right now. Oh, it’s cool I can wait a minute.

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7 Comments / Post A Comment

sea ermine (#122)

these games are so weird to me! Mostly because there are only two situations where I check my phone while out with people, if it’s an emergency, or if I made an event through facebook and not everyone has showed up and I want to see if someone posted that they’re lost or couldn’t find the location (and then, I wait for a lull in conversation to do it and I let people know that’s what I’m doing so they understand why I’m pulling out my phone). Is it really that hard to not check your phone during a meal? Isn’t that kind of like pulling out a book and reading it to yourself mid conversation?

bgprincipessa (#699)

The only thing I can think about while watching that video is what a tremendous waste of battery life that is. I have Android, not iPhone, so idk it’s probably different, but I never ever keep motion sensors or data or wifi or any of those kinds of things switched on. That looks like it requires both data and a sensor. And you have to leave the app running and open.

sunflowernut (#1,638)

I dunno, I feel like if I routinely hung out with people who required the playing of this game, I’d just find other people to hang out with. I’m definitely not a huge cell phone user while socializing, but I like to check it during downtime (while everyone is out smoking, going to the bathroom, while I’m waiting in line at the bar). Having that taken away from me because other people suck just sounds like a major bummer.

planforamiracle (#4,034)

@sunflowernut agreed. I think this game is really childish and not in a fun way. I trust my friends to pay attention to the socializing at hand instead of their phones..

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

@planforamiracle Ha! I was introduced to the phone stack when drinking with people who worked for Ministers in the federal government. Though the rules were: phone in the centre, you can check it and pay for everyone or take it and leave (no coming back for at least one hour). Unless you worked for the Prime Minister – then you had free reign.

In my job, I monitor my phone at certain times, and I expect people to understand. But if you just want to text other people? Rude!

muggles (#1,525)

I would totally use that app for forcing myself to focus while watching movies or TV at home!

hotdish (#1,868)

Were the people you were talking to parents? I would never agree to a “game” like that, because when I’m gone, I do check periodically to make sure the babysitter isn’t texting me frantically. Even when my husband is staying home with the kids, I check texts. I have a nursing baby at home, and that trumps whatever bullshit hang-ups people have about not checking phones at the table. If he’s hungry and screaming, I need to know so I can leave RIGHT THEN to nurse him. Yes, I leave a bottle of pumped milk if I’m going to be gone, but sometimes that isn’t enough and it’s not fair to leave him hungry while I’m out having fun with friends.

I agree that it’s not polite to check your phone constantly, or to get sucked into phone calls/emails/texts/the internet when you should be giving your attention to your friends, but… this sort of “game” just really is not my thing.

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