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Can Everyone Stop Telling Us How To Use Our Phones In Public?

Grazia logo Grazia 14/01/2020 Georgia Aspinall
a group of people sitting at a table with plates of food: Food © Credits: Getty Images Food

Heston Blumenthal has criticised diners at his restaurant for photographing their food, telling the Radio Times he has been ‘tempted’ to intervene and stop people from doing it. It comes as more pubs and restaurants are banning mobile phone use.

‘At the Fat Duck, we’ve debated this for several years now,’ the celebrity chef said. ‘If we say to people, “your food’s going cold”, you put up a barrier between you and the diner.’ Adding that he can get annoyed at diners, he said he stopped some in Australia from photographing their food because the camera had a flash. ‘[It] affected other tables,’ he said. ‘It’s a really tricky thing.’

a person sitting at a table with plates of food © Getty Images

Blumenthal is not alone in his disdain for mobile phone use in restaurants and bars, with a number of pubs, in particular, banning phones. Samuel Smith banned phones, tablets and iPads in 2018, as has Frankie & Benny’s. Most recently, one social media user highlighted the use of coasters at one pub that told drinkers it was a ‘mobile, tablet and laptop free zone’.

‘Let’s just talk!’ the back of the coaster read. ‘We want our traditional pub to be a haven for social conversation.’

It’s the same kind of patronising language used across cafes in London, where boards that would normally host wi-fi passwords have now been scrubbed clean by resident hipster manager Tim to read ‘this is a wi-fi free zone! Pretend it’s 1981 and talk to each other!’

Honestly Tim, maybe you and your beard loved romanticising about the ‘glorious olden days’ when people were forced to engage in conversation because there was nothing better to do, but for some of us - you know, women, minorities, LGBT people - the ‘olden days’ aren’t that glorious. We'd prefer the Wi-Fi password to your advice, please.

And yes, it might be somewhat admirable that certain pub owners or restaurateurs want us to be more sociable – but it’s also massively misguided. Because, there are a ton of reasons someone might be using their phone in a restaurant.

Maybe you have physical health issues you need to track on your iPad, maybe you have mental health issues your phone helps alleviate, maybe you’re on a date that’s becoming scarily uncomfortable and you need to text someone, quick. Regardless of the reason, and there are many more, it’s no one else’s place to judge why you have your phone out in a pub.

Putting personal preferences on anyone in the form of a ban is not going to foster ‘social conversation’, it’s just going to dampen profits when no one wants to be in such a judgemental environment.

Blumenthal might not have banned phone use in his restaurants, but his logic stems from the same school of thought. He might like to enjoy the entire experience of food - the sight, smell and taste - and taking pictures may get int he way of that. Fair enough. So don’t do it then.

But perhaps, just perhaps, don’t judge everyone else for doing it.

Read More:

How To Take Actually Good Pictures Of Food If You Fancy Upping Your Instagram Game

Couple Called Out On Twitter For Being On Phones At Restaurant. Boyfriend's Response Is Brilliant

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