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Phone Stacking: Can't We Just Turn The Damn Thing Off?

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I remember going out on a date from hell about nine years ago. The guy, who's name I couldn't remember if a gun was pressed to my head, took me out to a very nice dinner at One If By Land, Two If By Sea in New York...and proceeded to talk on his cell phone the entire time. I'm talking several full-blown conversations. The company might have sucked, but at least I got a good meal as a consolation prize.

At the time, I considered it pretty damn rude to answer a phone during dinner. That was, alas, before social networking sites began practically begging you to share every bite and morsel of food with the entire world. Now, Tweeting about your dinner (OMG! The rolls are warm!) is the norm -- but is it still rude?

I admit I'm guilty of the same behavior. Sometimes when I'm out to dinner with my husband he has to remind me that it's just the two of us at the table -- Suri the iPhone is not invited to dine with us. That gentle prompting is all I need to put away the phone and gaze lovingly at my husband -- and my branzino.

Hence: phone stacking. In case you've been trapped under a large rock, phone stacking is the game invented by Lil-B on Tumblr. Originally called "Don't Be a D**k During Meals With Friends", the game is simple (and meant as both a teaching lesson and a punishment):

1. The game starts after every has ordered.

2. Everyone places their phone on the table face down (or stacks them face down in the middle of the table).

3. The first person to check their phone has to pay the entire tab.

4. If the check comes before anyone checks their phone, everyone is declared a winner and pays their own way.

Sure, having to pick up the tab a few times (especially in Miami) is

enough to cure anyone of bad behavior, and it's a great idea, but how

far should we go?

Should restaurants, like theaters, institute a

no-phone rule? Would you be more or less inclined to eat there? Could

you live without Tweeting about your heirloom tomato salad? Without the crutch of Facebook, could you manage to engage in a complete conversation for about an hour?

Should we phone stack, with the emphasis on teaching someone a potentially expensive lesson in manners? Or can we actually self-police ourselves and turn the damn thing off before dining?

The only thing I know is that next time I'm dining in a group, I'm leaving Suri in the car. Just in case she decides to talk up.

Follow Short Order on Facebook and Twitter @Short_Order.

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