February 17, 2012 | by Jamie Maltman
Have you heard about the new game that has been taking the internet by storm over the past couple of months, bringing together mobile users in a revolutionary social way? No, not Draw Something, the latest Zynga game or an app at all. Its called The Phone Stack, and it aims to stop people from letting their mobile devices get in the way of connecting the old-fashioned way.
Picture this: you’re out for dinner with a group of friends, and one or more of the group are texting, taking calls, checking work e-mail, or using their mobile device in any number of ways. Does this sound like your group of friends, or even you? Android users are likely no better than our compatriots on other fruit flavors when it comes to this modern affliction. The Phone Stack was invented by Californian Brian Perez who actually wanted to connect with the people they’re sitting down to eat with.
How does it work? At the start of the meal, everyone puts their phone face down in a stack on the table, promising not to use it for the duration. They stay in the stack no matter how much they ring, ding, flash or vibrate. If anyone picks up their device before the bill is paid, they’re buying. Simple concept, but the first time you try it will bring out a few withdrawal symptoms and itchy fingers. The great thing about it is that everybody wins as you spend your social time socializing instead of being absorbed in your virtual world.
So where else can you extend this?
How about meetings? No mobile devices means everyone has to stay focused. I’d suggest marrying that to the Modern Meeting Standard (from Read This Before Our Next Meeting, a great quick read that will revolutionize your approach to meetings, if you have any control over them in your organization) to actually make meetings productive instead of a painful experience that takes a little surreptitious texting or Angry Birds to survive. Suitable penalties could start at coffee and snacks for the next meeting, through a round of drinks, or being forced to take minutes next time around. Then you’d really have to focus.
Family meals? Your kids might not have a phone yet, but you could include music players, personal video game systems, or any other electronic devices. First to cave in does the dishes!
Time with your kids? Involve them in deciding your punishment if you fail the test, or their benefit. Toys, kids shows or more could be in order.
We’re a little late giving this advice for Valentine’s Day, but to anyone in a relationship, I’m sure you could find ways to play this game with the special person in your life. Maybe the winner chooses the next movie, with no complaining from the loser. You’re not alone if you’ve been accused of flaunting your relationship with the mistress that is your phone.
We all love our Android devices, but in this crazy always-connected world sometimes you need to invest some time and focus in your offline relationships. The Phone Stack puts a friendly competition to that noble cause.
Have you tried the Phone Stack? Do you have your own version? We challenge you to try it out in different areas of our life and let us know the difference it makes!