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EDITORIAL: Good thing to talk about


Think of the things that could cause a stormy backlash on social media.

When it’s a bar asking people to turn off their computers during evening hours and enjoy the ambience, safe to say we got off easy.

Let’s face it, a tablet glued to somebody’s face can get in the way of a good conversation.

To that end, Lion and Bright, a café in north end Halifax, took lengths toward screen-free status after 5 p.m., recently posting signs asking that people put aside work-related devices such as laptops and tablets. That evoked some harsh feedback from those who described the declaration as pretentious, but also some debate across the twittersphere, with some supporting the gesture.

The business calls itself a hybrid, a café in the daytime where customers show up with their gear and use it as a workspace, but a bar and restaurant after 5 p.m. The owners also clarified that the rule would not apply to such devices as smartphones, or reading on a Kindle, rather just those used for work purposes. They have also apologized in a press release that they didn’t intend to come off as patronizing and will edit the signs to clarify the message.

A bit of a tempest, perhaps, and it’s one of those things where there’s no easy umpiring as to who is right. Certainly those who are righteously put off by the establishment’s position don’t have to darken its doors.

But most won’t miss the wholesome aim of the message from the restaurant. As owner Sean Gallagher said, when people are plugged into headphones, working away at a keyboard, they’re closed off from the world. The atmosphere they hope to encourage at Lion and Bright is one where, after 5, people “relax, connect with people, look people in the eye, share a drink, share your hopes for the future, talk about your work day, de-stress, and enjoy yourself.”

A toast to that.

And of course, an issue like this could find itself divided along the lines of age. How often do people of earlier generations note that in such a place, a bar, a restaurant, a place generally known for communal enjoyment, some patrons rather than chatting and socializing will sit and stare at a screen – sometimes an entire group gathered at the same table.

How often do we hear concerns that younger people – not just young adults, but youths and even children – spend too much time staring at an electronic screen? It’s gotten to the point that some, experts among them, wonder what that unshakeable trend could mean for our social graces or ability to communicate orally. Setting an example is never a bad idea.

Good for Lion and Bright personnel to make the observation that a little unwinding and socializing is good for us.

Rather than see this rule as somehow dictatorial, pretentious or haughty, it wouldn’t hurt just to think of it as a darned good suggestion.

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