Unplug & Recharge//

Coffee Shops Want You To Get Offline Already

Take your morning latte with a side of conversation.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

You, your laptop and a full day of work walk into a coffee shop — only to discover that there’s no Wi-Fi. This might sound like something out of a freelancer’s nightmare, but Wi-Fi-less cafes are becoming more common, as the New York Times reports.

Coffee shops like HotBlack Coffee in Toronto and Cafe Grumpy in New York are deliberately Wi-Fi-less in hopes of getting customers to, you know, actually talk to each other.

HotBlack president Jimson Bienenstock spoke to the NYT about creating the offline cafe, a move that’s getting a surprising amount of press. Bienenstock, who lived abroad for 15 years, said the phenomenon of setting up shop to do work in a cafe is unique to North America. He adds that not providing his customers with Wi-Fi isn’t “revolutionary” but a response to people being so caught up in their screens that they’ve forgotten the fine art of face-to-face communication.

Some cafes deliberately design spaces that aren’t conducive to work, including narrowly-designed counters that are “less accommodating for laptops,” according to NYT. Of Cafe Grumpy’s seven locations in New York and Brooklyn, only their Greenpoint location has Wi-Fi or ample work space — the rest are deliberately offline.

Whether this strategy will actually work is a different story: You can take the Wi-Fi out of a screen-centric society, but it won’t get rid of the screens or guarantee the people will start conversing. But the move is important, even if only symbolically. And encouragingly, the trend of spaces trying to get us to focus on each other instead of our devices is growing. This restaurant, for example, gives people a discount if they go an entire meal without using their phones.

While it’s sad that we need Wi-Fi-less cafes or monetary incentives to actually talk to the people around us, these spaces signal an awareness of the role technology plays in our ability to connect with others. Plus, as we all learn to set healthier boundaries with screens in the digital age, getting some help from our most-frequented places can’t hurt.

Read more on the NYT.

Originally published at medium.com

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Modern Absurdity//

People are ‘Expressing’ Themselves Via Wi-Fi Names and it Needs to Stop

by Shelby Lorman
Working vacations can give you the best of both worlds — as long as you strike the right balance.
Community//

How to Take a Working Vacation That Actually Works

by Serenity Gibbons
Carina Knig/EyeEm/Getty Images
Time Well Spent//

I Traveled for Four Weeks Trying to Balance Work and Vacation

by Justin Bariso

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.