Do We Really Need A Gadget To Stop Us From Using Gadgets Now?

This designer wants us to stop being jerks to each other at dinner. But can he change human nature?

Socialight is a lamp that only lights up if you put your phone on top of it. It’s like the new version of the phone stacking game from 2012: People put all their phones on the table at the beginning of dinner; then the first person to use the phone would pay the check.


Socialight is designed to fix this problem. The device–designed by SVA Products of Design student Kevin Cook–was inspired by the old phone stacking game, and functions similarly: The light only turns on when its hidden magnetometer detects a phone’s electromagnetic field. “[The] consequence for removing your phone is darkness, and I think that’s a pretty unambiguous cue to put your phone back down and enjoy the meal and your company,” Cook writes.

[Image: courtesy SVA]
Unfortunately, it only takes one nice person to light up a table full of assholes with phones glued to their faces. People who want truly meaningful face-to-face conversations just don’t use their phones at dinner. People who are constantly stuffing their egos with social media will find a way to avoid changing their behavior. The third possible case is the latter group of people sharing their intimate occasion with the former. No device can change human nature without more of an incentive or punishment–especially when, in this case, escaping meaningful conversation is a strong incentive for using the phone at dinner. As a friend once told me: “When I go on dates, I never take my phone out. I just go to the toilet to ‘pee’ whenever I want to check my messages.”

It’s good advice if you want to be famous for having a tiny bladder, and hide the fact that you’re a social dolt in the process. Maybe everyone needs a Socialight to remind them not to be a jerk to others. All I’m trying to say? Don’t date my friend unless he brings one of these to dinner.


About the author

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce and a contributing writer at Fast Company.