Social media is ruining the pub — not what you’d call regular science, but cocktail bar owner Steve Tyler believes it to be true. He’s installed a Faraday cage in the walls of his establishment, hoping this will make his customers will interact more with each other, not with their screens.
If you’re waiting for an important phone call, maybe don’t drop by Steve Tyler’s Gin Tub in Hove, East Sussex. But, if you’re fed up with people staring at their phone all night instead of actually enjoying the night, it might be just up your alley.
The pub’s landlord solved a very modern problem — people forgoing face-to-face human interaction for their gadget of choice — with an 1863 solution — the Faraday cage. He installed metal mesh in the bar’s walls and ceiling which absorbs and redistributes the electromagnetic fields. In other words, once you enter the pub your phone or other wireless device is cut off from the rest of the world.
The cage, named after its inventor Michael Faraday, is more commonly used in power plants or other highly charged environments to prevent discharges or interference with other electronic equipment. Installing one in a bar might thus seem a tad overkill, but Tyler believes it’s the only way to bring back the feel of the British pub.
“I just wanted people to enjoy a night out in my bar, without being interrupted by their phones,” he told the BBC
“So rather than asking them not to use their phones, I stopped the phones [from] working. I want you to enjoy the experience of going out.”
Speaking about the Faraday cage he added: “It’s silver foil in the walls and it’s copper mesh. And it’s not the perfect system, it’s not military grade.”
There are some that believe Tyler’s cage might put off younger customers. Social media expert Zoe Cairns warns that “mobile phones are every part of our life now and if we go into a bar, a club and we are looking for our phones, it does take away that socialising aspect of it. But I do believe [this idea] is going to isolate that particular generation.”
Technically speaking though, Tyler isn’t doing anything wrong. While electronic jamming devices are illegal, a Faraday cage isn’t because, “unlike jammers, Faraday cages don’t proactively cause interference, although they do interfere with mobile reception,’ according to an Ofcom spokesman. There’s nostalgic — some of them Union Jack-colored — rotary phones on each table so that the customers can order drinks or connect to the outside world if need be. And so far, his customers are pretty happy with the cage — in fact, Tyler said the only complaint he had came from a customer whose phone did in fact work so he moved them to another table.