On friday nite we had some mates around for a meal and some in depth conversation.
The picture above is not a group selfie but rather a close-up of the phone basket that was my wife’s idea.
We emailed everyone beforehand to let them know, and as they arrived at the party we held out the basket and they muted their phones and dropped them in and got them again as they left at the end of the evening.
This didn’t work quite as well for J. who arrived 45 minutes late and with no doorbell and no means of contacting anyone inside [we couldn’t remember if he had RSVP’d yes or not] had to eventually leave and miss out on the fun [although maybe, for Capetonians especially, that is its own lesson on punctuality or sending texts when knowing you will not make it on time].
And it was incredible. We did it again on Easter Sunday with the family. Phones in a box and for a crowd who tend to gravitate to our screens when we get together, it was a revelationary process.
What was perhaps most interesting on both occasions was how much everyone embraced the idea absolutely when we told them about it. Almost as if we had given a group of people permission for something they had already secretly been wanting to do.
i share this completely as an idea for you and yours. i have heard of a similar version when you go to a restaurant with mates and the phones all go in the middle and the first person who reaches for their phone, if there is a call or message or something, foots the entire bill. That would seem like a way to get us cured of our ‘connectedness’ quickly.
This is the thing that gets me. On most occasions [and there are exceptions] when you have chosen to spend time with me [one on one at coffee, hanging with a group of friends at a braai, dinner occasion with the family] and then you choose to allow our time to be interrupted by someone you have not chosen to spend time with at that moment, it just feels completely rude. In fact, what you are saying is i am even going to give a wrong number [someone i don’t even know] the opportunity to take my attention away from you. It really is just so much of rudeness.
Also the idea that you will turn your phone off for a movie or a church service or dentist appointment, but not for a time spent with me? Insulting.
We need to learn how to be present and engaged with those who we have chosen to spend the time with.
The phone box is going to be a regular staple at the group dinner events tbV and i are planning to hold, and our family also decided that we should do that every time we get together for a meal, not just that one occasion.
So just try it out. And let me know how it goes.