I promise not to use my cell phone while eating…
A shout of OHHH MY GODDDD ARE YOU SERIOUS? SHE DID? The LED flash of someone Instagramming their entree, followed by look of smug gratification. Some jerk waving his phone around trying to get a cell signal Foursquare. Not anymore!
Buzzing DC eatery Rogue24 wants hype to be the only thing in the air, making patrons ink a contract that prohibits the use of phones and cameras during meals. What! Creeping fascism!
We should be free to do whatever we’d like in a restaurant, as paying customers! If I want to photograph every calorie I ingest or share my location with an indifferent would, that’s my birthright! Right?
Sure, it’s innocuous, in the same sense that farting in a restaurant doesn’t literally kill anyone. But maybe the gadgetization of dinner has come with some costs? I’m sympathetic to that argument, as are famous eateries like New York’s exalted Momofuku Ko, which quietly bans phone usage on its website. So, yeah, the idea of a dining contract is incredibly obnoxious—it’s a restaurant, not a missile silo. I don’t want to have to enter a legal pact in order to eat. But keeping phones in pockets and off tablecloths could be good for food. And for the people you’re eating the food with. Remember them?
And yet—so many of the photos on my camera are from restaurants. There are plenty of higher-end restaurants that pander to the dining camera photographer, creating spectacle meals that beg to be snapped and uploaded. And of course there are the friends from work, relatives, and birthdays—we celebrate in restaurants, and we photograph celebrations. And now, we photograph with our phones. So it’d appear we’re in a bit of a bind! Certainly one without easy resolution. Do we go back to dinner for the sake of food and companionship, or swallow some 21st century alienation if it lets us take grainy JPEGs of fun nights?