Let me paint you a scene. It's the mid-17th century, due to your poor diet, personal hygiene and living conditions, you are absolutely covered in various skin legions, growths and pustules - this has little to do with the point I'll be making, it's mostly just for you to build an idea of yourself in this scene. You are living in London and will shortly be meeting a dear childhood friend - a blacksmith named Keith who married his cousin - in a local gin bar. You don your finest clothes - trousers made from the skin of various street dogs and a sort of shirt thing that doesn't have too many visible lice on it - and head off to meet Keith. While the two of you are sitting at your table, sipping gin, with Keith trying to explain to you how he simply doesn't understand why so many of his children have been born having deviated from the classic 'ten fingers' for a human - you interrupt him. You interrupt him by taking out some writing materials and saying that he should 'carry on' as you are 'definitely still listening', yet you still insist on choosing that precise moment to painstakingly attend to some correspondence that was in no way pressing. You then, having drafted your numerous communiques, demand that the two of you hold a pose for about 20 minutes so that you may make a sketch to remember your evening out together. Keith, after growing increasingly irate at your inattention, grabs you by the lapels, and coughs into your face while yelling, "I've given you the plague. I have the plague and I've given it to you because you're a shit friend!" And Keith would be well within his rights to do so.
All that separates this from any contemporary pub scenario where someone is glued to their phone is the insidiously innocuous ease of communication granted by a phone and the fact that the majority of your entourage are statistically far less likely to be plague-addled. The disregard for those around you remains the same.
While none of us are immune from this plight (checking phones, not the plague - which, given that at the outset of writing this article I had no plans to reference, has become far more of a central theme than I would've thought possible), occasionally checking a phone for pertinent messages relevant to the night or for directions etc. is excusable, but should best be done in moderation. Anything beyond that - and certainly if we're talking about scrolling through any form of social media - and you should automatically be considered an enemy of the people.
To ascertain just how injurious to people's enjoyment of a night out the presence of a phone was, Guinness funded a study - conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes. They studied groups of friends who they sent on nights out on two consecutive Thursdays. The first night out they were allowed their phones however on the second they were requested to keep their phones away while all other factors across the two nights remained the same.
They found that 94% of people who were involved in the study had a more enjoyable time on a night out where they were without their phone, as opposed to 6% who stated the opposite.
Richard Layte, a scientific advisor for the study and Head of Sociology in Trinity College, said "The findings from this study are scientific evidence that if we put our phones down when we meet with friends and family, we not only enjoy the experience more but also feel closer to them and have a greater sense of belonging."
In light of this I advocate a return to our primitive selves. Take all your electronics and throw them in a quarry. Relish the new found freedom, the sense of the now that you will rediscover. Enjoy the presence of mind and increased attention you will be able to pay to friends when you are hanging out. Up until the point where you try to reference a humorous video of, for example, a sheep screaming like a person, and have no means of showing it to them. Then, grow to regret your foolhardy decision to hurl your valuables into a damn quarry.