Out for dinner? Put yer flipping phone away

John
John Gushue
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Case No. 1: It happened in one of the splashier restaurants in St. John's, and we were out for dinner with one of our favourite couples. Several tables over, a cellphone started ringing. And ringing. And, minutes later, ringing yet again.

We suspect the well-heeled folks at that centrally located table were pretty significant, because the wait staff and managers at the restaurant did not ask them to turn off or even mute the phone - which, incidentally, was never answered - despite several requests (including from our table) to do just that.

Surf's up -

Case No. 1: It happened in one of the splashier restaurants in St. John's, and we were out for dinner with one of our favourite couples. Several tables over, a cellphone started ringing. And ringing. And, minutes later, ringing yet again.

We suspect the well-heeled folks at that centrally located table were pretty significant, because the wait staff and managers at the restaurant did not ask them to turn off or even mute the phone - which, incidentally, was never answered - despite several requests (including from our table) to do just that.

Case No. 2: Recently, I watched a table of four thirtysomethings wait for their dinner, all while they individually checked their phones, sent messages, browsed, Tweeted or whatever it was they were doing. It made for quite a sight - a quartet of bobbing heads and fixed gazes.

Obviously, the first case was more annoying, both because of the noise and the restaurant's refusal to address the loud elephant in the room.

But, more and more, Case No. 2 is becoming more of a nuisance, even as the phenomenon - a full table of adults all consumed with their SmartPhones - becomes more prevalent, and even though they don't actually make any noise.

Maybe it's because it's so distracting; I can't help but notice all those turned-down heads and the flicking and clicking of fingers and thumbs.

Or maybe because it's so sad. Yes, a tricked-out, app-heavy phone can be amazing, but the time and place for it surely is not a night out in a restaurant with friends or loved ones.

After all, if the mobile web, like the desktop web before it, is all about connection, why turn your back - or your forehead - on one of the most wonderful ways to connect? What, really, is a meal but a chance to share and to delve deeply into the lives and thoughts of people who matter to us?

I haven't been tempted, of course, to complain about a table of phone-addled customers. For their sake, maybe some day I will.

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What is it, you ask?

Well, you'll have to find out for yourself.

John Gushue is a writer and web editor with CBC News in St. John's. Twitter: @johngushue. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com.

Organizations: CBC News

Geographic location: St. John's, Toronto, Avalon Newfoundland Vatican

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