Is Bribery Necessary for Us to Pay Attention?
Let’s get one thing clear: multitasking is a myth. The human mind cannot–will not–pay attention to more than one thing at a time. What most of us consider multitasking is switching back and forth between multiple stimuli. And the more we switch, the more we compromise our ability to switch. Got it?
The harm of multitasking seems obvious with things like driving and texting or walking and texting or…pretty much any movement and texting. But dining has always been a refuge for the so-called multitasker: we talk on the phone and eat, read and eat, watch TV and eat and, increasing, text and eat. But just because we do it, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. We compromise our gastronomic experience and the social experience by not paying attention to our dining-mates.
A Los Angeles restaurant called Eva is dealing with this issue in a novel way: they are offering 5% off your bill if you check your device at the door. In an interview with KPCC radio, chef and owner Mark Gold explains his reasoning for the offer:
For us, it’s really not about people disrupting other guests. Eva is home, and we want to create that environment of home, and we want people to connect again. It’s about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone, and we’re trying to create an ambience where you come in and really enjoy the experience and the food and the company.
In other words, Gold isn’t trying to save fellow diners from secondhand cellphone conversations; he’s trying save cellphone users from themselves, getting them to pay attention to their food and the company they keep. Gold says about half the patrons take the discount.
What about you? Would you take the discount or hold onto your phone? Do you have ways to keep yourself mindful at the dinner table and elsewhere? Let us know in the comments section.
Update: Eva has closed for reasons unknown, though we hope it wasn’t because people couldn’t text and eat.
image credit: Siegel/Daily News