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Defending the Phone Stack

We’ve gotten a big response to our humble promotion of the phone stack, and it’s led us to two inescapable conclusions. First, this is an idea whose time has come. Second, some stragglers just aren’t ready for it. For every few supporters on Facebook, there was at least one holdout, bitterly clinging to the right to text and tweet while you’re sitting right there. So to speed the glorious chariot of progress, we’d like to piece through the objections one at a time...

Texting Is Totally Different from Answering a Phone Call. This was the most common and most mystifying response. On some level, it’s true—texting is not nearly as rude as talking on the phone—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t rude. Anytime you’re giving a pocket-sized gadget precedence over a human being, something has gone wrong.

Banning the Phone Has Become a Narcissistic Power Game. This one cuts a little bit closer to home. Some in your party might feel imposed upon, as if you are putting too many demands on them in exchange for a simple meal—but that’s why the group element is so important. This is a game among friends, a gesture of how much you all value the group’s collective, undivided attention. They should feel flattered, not put out.

If This Catches On, I’m Going to Be Buying My Friends Dinner for the Rest of My Life. Perhaps. But perhaps not. Perhaps, as your bank account dwindles from all those dinner bills, you’ll discover untold reserves of willpower. Perhaps you’ll take up meditation and find new richness in the mundane details of everyday life. Perhaps your phone will break. You never know.

My Job Requires Me to Be On Call 24 Hours a Day. No, it doesn’t; you just like to say that. But there are lots of ways to water down the game. We’re willing to give blanket exceptions in cases of childbirth, aging relatives and the 36 hours after a first date. If you’re still worried, you can always institute a halftime amnesty for an especially long meal (say, after the entrées have been taken away), but that would ruin the tension, which is half the point. In the end, it’s like gambling: if you can’t afford the stakes, don’t play.

What If a Thief Runs by and Steals Everyone’s Phone? That’s what the Taser stack is for.