Like an unattached arm or leg, smartphones have become an indispensable part of the human anatomy. In the age of instant communication, it's difficult to imagine life without Mr. Samsung or iPhone by our side. And God forbid we should make it through a meal without tweeting, Instagramming, and Foodspotting our cuisine of choice.
In response, some restaurants across the country are instituting no-cell-phone policies in the dining room or taking other measures to keep customers in check. Miami's own Michy's has instituted a Sensational Sundays dinner series during which patrons are encouraged to forgo their phones in exchange for free cupcakes. In general, though, diners in the 305 are free to remain glued to their digital devices as they see fit.
But one Miami woman is sick of having her meals disturbed by loud talkers, drama queens, and live-tweeters who just can't separate themselves from their smartphones.
(As journalists, we're as guilty as the next guy, but we have to admit -- it would be nice to eat an undisturbed meal every once in a while. And revisit the art of eye contact.)
After almost being run down by a dude who was driving and texting, Julie Liberty took to Facebook to voice her frustrations. She started the page Ban Cell Phones From Restaurants and soon discovered she wasn't alone. People from across the country chimed in to express their anger.
Picture by Jim Grant via Ban Cell Phones from Restaurants on Facebook
One California man posted the above picture from a waterfront eatery with the following comment: "I took this at South Beach Bar & Grille in Ocean Beach Ca. this upstairs dining area has a full ocean view . However they are absorbed in the dumb phones ...Put the thing down and get in the now ..."
"There just doesn't seem to be any kind of etiquette as far as cell phones. There's always been Internet etiquette, things you just don't do, but that doesn't seem to have caught up with people and their cell phones," Liberty says.
"I notice that in restaurants in particular that you can complain all you want but they're reluctant to do anything," she continues. "There's no self-policing, and nobody seems to be stepping in."
It wasn't always this way, Liberty says. "Years ago, we invited people to the house, and if the phone rang, nobody rushed to pick it up."
But nowadays, every text, tweet, or Facebook post seems to require an immediate response.
"A lot of people have had their birthday dinners or anniversary dinners ruined. It just doesn't seem like a good system. If you want to talk, have a section for it. If you have to make a phone call, separate yourself. Go find a quiet spot, keep it to the point, find out what the person wants, and tell them you'll call them back," she suggests. "It's a failure of manners."
She has a point.
Liberty hopes restaurants will begin taking action to at least quell some of the more obvious displays of rudeness.
"Some businesses are asking people to check their cell phones. I know they do that at school because they can't have the distraction. Where people have failed to have any manners, I guess it's up to small businesses to pick up the slack. A good start would be a sign by the register that says, 'We'll be glad to serve you when you get off the phone'. Baby steps, I guess."
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So what do you think? Should Miami restaurants take measures to limit cell-phone usage, or are you OK with eating and tweeting? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.