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March 29, 2013

Your Turn: Mobile Lunch

A long time reader sent me this the other day. He wrote:

Thought you might be interested in this recent photograph from Adweek. Of all the industries, advertising and marketing has been at the forefront of the “cool” shots of its “celebrities”. But this takes a new turn for me. Who would have ever thought a photo of three people staring into phones would be “cool”?

Here’s the link to the article. These three are bigwigs in a start-up NYC ad agency. The guy on the left (who also happens to tweet under the handle @DrSamuelJohnson and has almost 43,000 followers) just joined as head of strategy from a firm in London. The guy on the right is the executive creative director and the woman is the managing director, both having recently relocated from San Francisco. …And yep, that’s the Carnegie Deli.

So, I’m trying to understand why this is interesting. Certainly, it purports to elevate cell phone use to a status superior to live interpersonal interaction providing us, also, with the social media age portrait of the “working lunch.” But then, being from a trade magazine, showing work peers, is it way too particular to justify larger generalizations about the impact of technology on social behavior? Or maybe, they’re just joshing around. Whether these colleagues are simply having fun with us, however, or this is how these ad folks roll, to the extent the photo still deems to comment on where our wired existence is headed, I’d say it’s ironic as hell.

(h/t: JH. photo: unattributed caption: Tom Morton, Christian Haas and Nancy Reyes multi-task at the Carnegie Deli.)

  • nucowa

    Jesus, if you’re going to miss the real lesson – looking busy is just as important as being busy – but you also can’t attribute the photographer on whose image you based your article? Sloppy.

    • Michael Shaw

      Thanks very much for your comment. It gives me the opportunity to toot our horn over how obsessively we caption and credit. (If you follow us regularly, you also know there is probably not another site that puts as much weight on a caption than we do. The issue you highlight is an important one however and comes back to this: why in this age of online media, in an increasingly visual culture, wouldn’t major media make it a standard practice to credit every photograph/photographer on line? In some cases, major publishers publish the photo credit in print but not on their webedition making it practically impossible for us to access it. If you have an author name, or the photographer happens to read this post, please email and we would be delighted to add it.

  • bks3bks
  • bill

    Certainly there’s an element of “looking busy” to the modern business ethos, but I’ve seen this same behavior at modest restaurants with groups of high school-aged people. Occasionally one will look across the table at someone with whom they’re apparently in a “texting” mode and say “yeah”, but otherwise all are intently focused on their phones until their meals arrive. But the thing about this incredibly rude behavior that I find most odd is that you can have a very attractive woman at the table (as in this deli pic) and men will completely ignore her. It’s as though modern conveniences are neutering us. I suppose the Degas piece that bks shared is supposed to show that enough ethanol (and wormwood?) can do the same thing, but the artist did not paint particularly attractive people in making his point.

    • bks3bks

      I don’t find the people in the photo attractive. In fact, they look like the kind of people I try to avoid.


  • BooksAlive

    Two letters to the editor in this morning’s NYT respond to a report on research done on how texting to the exclusion of actual physical interaction can diminish a person’s “capacity for connection, friendship and empathy.” The group above, according to the Adweek story, are celebrating the new hire; so we see them sending out their comments to colleagues and former co-workers. I agree with the research report that texting is a habit. I recently heard a local radio report that many more adults than young drivers admit to texting while driving.

    Original column:

  • 1nancy2

    Verbal communication is going bye bye. Personally? I like to converse, using good eye contact, inflection and have a good time laughing. Staring at a phone is not for me.

  • Ken Owen

    Once the meal arrives they’ll be Instagramming it to death.

  • Michael Shaw


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