The year is 2024, and I've just been kicked out of a cafe for using a laptop. Well, technically I wasn't kicked out, but rather was asked to put my laptop away because with the new year, they've decided to implement a no-laptop-policy. So I was effectively kicked out. I simply had to leave because it's a weekday. Even if I wanted to sit by myself for an hour or two and enjoy some coffee in silence, there's work to be done.
That's the thing. I wasn't playing a game or scrolling through social media feeds. I was writing. That's what I do. I suppose I could use a pen and paper to do that, as this cafe might prefer, but it strikes me as silly and decidedly less productive not to use the modern tools of one's trade.
So here I am, writing this at a goddamn Starbucks, like an animal.1 An animal with surprisingly good WiFi. And a laptop.
Look, I get it. You walk into any number of cafes around the world and it's increasingly people behind screens, typing away, not being social. Worse, for the businesses, those people are often camped out for hours, taking up space. I even think it's reasonable for that reason to implement rules during peak times. But again, that wasn't this. There were a dozen empty seats in this cafe. It's mid-morning. Also, I had not only just ordered a coffee, but a bite of food as well.
Anyway, every business can make rules as they please – "no shirt, no shoes, laptops, no business" – but this just strikes me as crazy in the modern world. As I put my laptop away and looked around, literally every single other person in the cafe was staring at their phone. Pop quiz, hot shot of espresso: is that better or worse? I can guaran-goddamn-tee those people are not writing anything on their phones. They're scrolling feeds or playing Candy Crush. At best, they're texting someone. Being "social" but not in the letter of this cafe's law.
Many places, of course, try to ban phones, but it never works. Because again, it's 2024 and what if there's a legitimate emergency? Also, the banning of phones is amazing in a time when millions of people have Apple Watches which are basically mini iPhones on your wrist. I've yet to see a watch ban, but if they start to happen, this cafe will be the first to implement one. Had they existed in the 1950s, newspapers would have been banned here. Books before that.
You know what I'm going to do? Next week, I'm coming back wearing an Apple Vision Pro. No laptop, you say? Wait until they get a load of this facetop! I'm just here, following the rules. Looking at you with a 100-foot screen playing Pulp Fiction over your head. And playing Doom on a 50-foot screen to your right. Don't worry though, I'm not typing, as that's damn near impossible to do on this device.
I kid, I kid. I'm not going to do that. But only because I'm not that guy (more on that guy in a minute). This Vision Pro isn't leaving my basement office, let alone my home. But it is a particularly funny moment in time to think about a laptop ban in a modern cafe. We're just about a decade removed from the "Glasshole" movement and already blowing up on social media are the so-called "Vision Bros". In case that's not self-explanatory, it's the dumbasses who wear the new device while driving (self-driving or not). Or even just walking down the street. Or hanging out in yes, a cafe together. Daft Punk, eat your hearts out.
We absolutely are about to get the first wave of Vision Pro bans in cafes. And maybe in 50 years that will seem foolish as well.2 But these new devices are going to make laptops look like quaint craftsman tools by comparison. And you know what? They are. It's how we all work now, obviously. It's literally counterproductive to deny this reality.
1 Here's an admission, I actually quite like Starbucks' new Oleato™ drink. Yes, it's coffee infused with extra virgin olive oil. Yes, that sounds disgusting. Or just European. It's honestly interesting, a nice break from the bitter!
2 Probably not. Because in 50 years, the Vision Pro will be a contact lens. So banning the current Vision Pro would be like banning a mainframe computer from a cafe in the 1950s. That feels reasonable.