Phone Roulette


Boston-Black-Mass-premiereI went to the barbers yesterday.

He’s one of those old school, proper “do you want a coffee, water or beer” type barber who doesn’t do bookings, have a TV on and actually takes his time and talks to you.

You might be mistaken for thinking that my barber is in his 70’s but he’s mid 20’s, his wife works in the business with him (also a trained barber) and he has 2 kids under 5.

I like his approach. I know that some would advocate booking a haircut to fit in with the rest of the day and I would be one of them as I normally schedule every hour of every day.

Here’s the thing though – Getting a haircut (ok, a #1 all over doesn’t constitute a hair cut) and a proper beard trip and wet shave is one of life’s little pleasures as I don’t do highlights or manicures.

I like to take my time and savour the experience.

It’s this that we started to talk about while he cut my hair.

I don’t know if you’ve seen it but there is this photo that’s gone viral over the interweb recently of a crowd of people looking at a visiting celebrity. The reason the photo is doing the rounds is because everyone is looking at the action taking place through a phone or ipad. There is one person in this shot who isn’t. She has her arms resting on the rails and is taking it all in. She’s enjoying the experience and actually being part of the action at that moment.

I go to football matches, a lot. I always see a few dozen people (less now we’re not in the premiership) recording the whole game or large chunks of it.

I go out for dinner, a lot. I always see couples at tables engrossed with their phones, on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram and not paying attention to each other or their food. They’re taking photos of the food or selfies and posting them online, sharing the experience with “friends” who don’t really give a shit. Rather than immersing themselves in the food, in the conversation, in each other they’re trading it for a transient swipe of a finger and hopefully a push of like button that’s soon forgotten.

I went walking the other day. It was beautiful and I did take a photo and share it with friends on FaceBook. I was however, really conscious of the interaction with the outside world. I enjoyed my walk, enjoyed the sun on my face and the view. I stopped for a few minutes to take it all in and then posted the photo when I got home.

I saw someone periscoping themselves watching the rugby last week. One of the great sporting occasions and rather than enjoying, singing and being a part of it their focus was on their followers and the external gratification they were getting.

Our lives are made up of our experiences. We share these experiences through stories and this is how we communicate and engage with each other. When you see 8 or 9 people sitting in a bar “together” having gone for a drink and a catch up because they’ve not seen each other for months and every single one of them is one a phone you think what’s the point?

We had a good chat, my barber and I. And then he told me about a new game that’s started playing.

It’s called phone roulette.

It’s a bit like Russian roulette except no one dies, although the rules probably would make some people think they may have.

It works like this:

When he goes out for dinner as a group, or for a drink in the pub etc he and all his mates put their phones face down on the table in front of them.

The concept is simple.

The first person to pick their phone pays the whole bill for everyone. If no one touches their phone then the bill is split between them.

I think this is bloody brilliant.

A stroke of simple genius.

Apparently he’s had 4 free meals this year already.

I can’t wait to see if my mates will get involved in this. I suspect not but it’s worth a try!

Maybe it’s something you could think about yourself. Maybe you could play it on your own with fines if you find yourself on FB when you should be working.

Maybe you could just go out with the person you love and leave the phone at home.

Maybe you could go for walk and instead of taking selfies, actually look around and take in where you are and enjoy the experience.

Maybe you could watch a football match and not watch it through a lens so you can (never) watch it later.

Maybe you could just enjoy the moment you’re in, be mindful and appreciative of what’s around you and just soak it up.

P.S. Don’t play phone roulette with anyone affluent – it doesn’t work!