I know a handful of people who can’t sit through an entire meal without looking at their phones. It starts with compulsive Foursquare checkins. (By the way, if you’re checking in on Foursquare at the grocery store, there’s a chance you’re a little too into it and completely missing the point of the service.) Then it’s “just this one email I’m waiting for,” followed by the ding of a text message… I’m sure you’ve been through the same meal. What? Is that text message more important than me? Then maybe you should have had dinner with that person instead.1
The Phone Stack is a game for when a) you’re that person and need to break the habit or b) you need to break a friend. How to play: Everyone puts their phones down on the table, face down, when they get there. The first person to give in and pick it up has to pay for dinner.
My own kids are pre-phone-owning age, but I’d love to hear how you’d adapt this to the family table with a house full of teenagers. Maybe the first one who grabs his phone has to do the dishes?1 This is derived from my mother’s call-waiting policy, circa the mid-1980s when it became more common. If you clicked over to another call, she would hang up on you, citing that clearly you decided it was more important to talk to an unknown person rather than finish your conversation with her. I recognize that adopting this policy towards cell phones may mean I am now old and have turned into my mother. I accept that. Now put down your phone and finish talking to me.