For some folks, the overuse of cell phones in public is an annoyance; others wonder if the handheld devices are breaking down traditional means of communication between all of us.
This week, Gilroy Patch about a new restaurant in California that is reacting to these modern times, offering incentives for patrons to change their technological habits, at least for the duration of a meal.
The Los Angeles restaurant, called Eva's, gives diners a five percent discount on their bill if they're willing to check their cell phones at the door.
The owner, Mark Gold, said in an interview on a California public radio station that he hopes the effort will bring people's focus back to each other instead of on cell phones.
Once inside the restaurant, a server gives newly-arriving customers the option of handing over their phone during the meal. If they agree, once they finish their food, the to-go containers are coupled with a bill that is reduced by five percent. During the meal, the phone goes into a virtual escrow; once the bill is paid, the phone is returned.
Is this an idea whose time has come?
Last week's Time magazine focused its issue on wireless: "10 Ways Your Phone is Changing the World" Among the findings?
- 71 percent of India residents say they use their cell phone while at a restaurant.
- 70 percent of Chinese residents use their cell phone while enjoying traditional meals.
- U.S. residents were moderate on the question; 36 percent keep one hand on their cell phone while they eat their meal.
Gilroy's Facebook page solicited local opinion on the idea of whether folks would hand over their phones during a meal for a discount:
Desiree Marie: Nope, if my children are not with me no way! I have a son with major food allergies and you never know what could happen.
Barbara Keating-Wolk: Don't think people would hand over their phones for a discount! Ever notice people with iPhones have to have them on the table at all times? Guilty as charged!!
Barbara Orth: In a heartbeat! I can be disconnected for an hour or so and give my dinner companion my attention.
David Benoit: Yes.
What do you think? Is it okay to use cell phones during a meal? Are we at a point where we can't get by without them, even while eating? Or is this idea of leaving your cell phone at the door a good one, especially with the added-value given of a five percent discount off the tab?
Let us know in the comments. Then vote in our poll.