In the summer of 2011, when Twitter was just entering the mainstream and the iPhone 4 was all the rage, a particularly tech-obsessed friend invited me to lunch for my birthday. I liked my friend (obviously) but generally tried to avoid eating with him. His smartphone use approached the pathological, and I never relished a meal spent fielding waitresses’ pity-smiles while my pal scrolled through his phone with one hand and shoveled sushi with the other.
Nevertheless, I was new to D.C. and appreciated the gesture. So we agreed to meet up on one strict condition: for the duration of the meal, he wouldn’t touch his phone. No e-mails. No Foursquare check-ins. Not a single Instagram. (“That is literally my one birthday wish,” I remember impressing on him. “One hour without the phone. You can do it. Really.”)