Ristorante Il Localino is one of Rome's best restaurants and a global favorite of mine. It sits steps away from the city's great park, Villa Borghese, just off of via Veneto.
Owner Claudio Dordei ordered for me, as he always does: grilled octopus, a side of olive drizzled crispy artichoke, all paired with a local white wine. After the perfect meal, we lock horns in a fierce game of backgammon -- something we've done many times over the years.
We dine al fresco, as do dozens of others -- even more eat inside.
Besides the fact that ours is the only table with a backgammon board, several things distinguish me in particular: I am American and I am the only person with a mobile phone out in plain view.
Conversation and laughter reverberate through Localino.
The cuisine is top-notch and the atmosphere lively.
But would Localino have the same great vibe if filled with rude cell phone addicts such as myself?
Perhaps restaurants can add a new twist to an old concept: "Welcome to Joe's, smartphoning or non-smartphoning."
Just what is it about these devices that has us acting in such anti-social ways?
Is it the need to be constantly plugged in or a desire to multitask?
Perhaps these little electronics are actually big shields to protect us from terrifying things such as human interaction or conversation.
Like most anything done in excess, over use of mobile devices is causing actual physical harm.
Clinics specializing in i-injuries are popping up everywhere, treating ailments such as "Blackberry thumb" and "iPad hand." My own thumbs burn with pain from excessive typing and swiping.
Beyond the physiological ailments, our fixation on mobility must be taking its toll our communication skills -- relationships are suffering.
I certainly see signs in everyday life. Enter an elevator most anywhere today: no pleasantries -- heads down -- fiddling with some device.
Sure, Italians tweet, text and use Facebook. But, as one friend elaborated "it is on our own time, not yours."
I guess the great irony about these amazing tools is that they help us stay connected to everything but the moment.
My name is Daniel, I am an addict.
Time to change.
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