Tuesday, May 9, 2017

"Coffee Shops Skip Wi-Fi to Encourage Customers to Actually Talk"

Via Drudge:  “It’s about creating a social vibe,” he said. “We’re a vehicle for human interaction, otherwise it’s just a commodity.”

At many coffee outlets, workers set up makeshift offices and rely on the stores’ Wi-Fi, which has come to be considered a given — if not a right.

While HotBlack is not the first cafe to withhold Wi-Fi from the public, industry experts said such shops are in the minority and risk alienating customers.

Mr. Bienenstock said he has traveled extensively, including 15 years of living in Europe, and found that the practice of setting up a temporary workplace in a cafe was largely confined to North America. He said he did not see his approach as revolutionary but as a response to society’s deep immersion into all things digital that leads people to seldom communicate face to face.

Customers initially were aghast at the decision.

“What do you mean you don’t have Wi-Fi?” was a common refrain, he said, adding that the camps are divided between those who love it and those who loathe it. (Only four of 28 reviews on Yelp noted the shop’s lack of Wi-Fi.)

(Don't skip the whole story - Link)

18 comments:

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

But most people in coffee shops are not the type of people you would want to talk to...

Lem said...

Elsewhere... "The Madison, Wisconsin school district is blocking students’ access to social media sites at several schools during the school day as part of a pilot project aimed at reengaging students."

ndspinelli said...

Lem, When cell phones became ubiquitous ~15 years ago I was working a case on the UW campus. I was doing surveillance of an entitled frat boy suing a cab company for a minor accident. As I followed this shitbird around campus it was the first time I saw the dynamic of thousands of young people, walking from class to class, side by side, w/o any engagement. They were all on their cell phones. And, this was before social media exploded onto the scene.

ricpic said...

Some nationalities are naturally gregarious. The Italians for example. At least they used to be. They also used to have big families so maybe that's changed. Anyway, Americans (with exceptions of course) are shyer about immediately opening up and having lively conversations with strangers. Having a screen to look at in a cafe is probably a relief to most of them.

ndspinelli said...

ric, Having been to Italy a couple times, in their native environment Italians are still quite gregarious. Here in the US they are more watered down, unless you get them in old enclaves like the north end of Boston, Brooklyn, etc. But, I would love to get Baghdad Ed's opinion on this. He has displayed a deep understanding of Italian architecture so he is the authority on all things "Eyetalian." Just ask him.

ndspinelli said...

ric, Most Asian cultures are introverted, which is a reason they are so attracted to online communication.

Amartel said...

Why is this coffee shop nudging people to personally interact? Maybe the people around you are horrible or just not that interesting and you don't want to interact with them.

Amartel said...

OTOH, a lot of people disappear into their online communities and never confront any reality outside those comfortable safe spaces, and that's not good. Most people are basically wussies about confrontation and intellectually lazy, and personal communication can be a much more effective way to reach them.

ndspinelli said...

Amartel, I'm guessing they have some data that shows interaction increases sales. Bars are for interaction, unless you are an alcoholic or the victim of one.

ndspinelli said...

I frequent many coffee shops in San Diego, WI, and now MN. I always try to patronize small biz shops. Each coffee shop seems to have its own vibe. But, in almost all, the regulars interact quite a bit. San Diego is very dog friendly and dogs seem to be an ice breaker for interaction. One place I frequent in San Diego is owned by a very extroverted guy from Florence. He attracts local Italian immigrants so you hear Italian spoken many mornings. And, as ric pointed out, they do like to talk. But, this owner's personality tends to attract extroverts.

ampersand said...

For a coffee shop named Hotblack, the clientele is awfully Au Lait.

edutcher said...

People talking to each other?

Can't have that.

They might hear ideas that challenge all their assumptions.

Trooper York said...

I think introversion is a trait of millennials. I find that in our store. They are afraid to talk and some of them actually physically recoil if you talk to them.

The wife started doing tarot card classes and the reaction is amazing. Several of the millennials were intrigued and came in and attended one of the workshop. They met other girls and became friends and go out for coffee together.

Of course they just sit next to each other and work on their phones but waddayagonnado?

Trooper York said...

We do get a bunch of girls who come in to say hello after shopping here. They get old fashioned service where people actually talk to you and they dig.

Of course others are repelled and never come back.

Milleannials are fucked up in the head.

ndspinelli said...

Trooper, I think you're partially correct. Introverts are a minority, psych testing proves that. Different cultures have different percentages. Chinamen are close to 50%, Latin cultures about 1/3 introverts. Being an introvert, I had to learn how to engage for personal and business reasons. But, if I were born in the past 20-30 years, I would probably be like those millennials you encounter. Social media allows them to climb even more into themselves. Since the 50's, extroverts were celebrated as the people you should want to be. However, in just the past decade introverts are becoming the desired personality type. I've talked w/ Chinamen students. They are shocked at the extrovert atmosphere in US education.

rcocean said...

It is weird to see people sitting with each other and not talking but typing away on their I-pads.

I'm not one for talking in coffee shops. I just want to enjoy my coffee and wake up before I head off for work.

But if others like to talk, that's cool.

rcocean said...

Milleannials - at work we have to keep telling them to call and talk to people. They think everyone wants to read e-mails.

If its a complex issue, you gotta talk about it.

Trooper York said...

I think the millennials are just too much into their phones and computers.

A huge new coffee shop has opened up in the space of an old school Italian restaurant. Casa Rosa that I have talked about many times. They have a long communal table in the front of the store. Every day a bunch of different unrelated people sit there and drink coffee. And work on their computers. And not say a word to each other.

Meanwhile across the street at the "Happy Pants" cafe the neighborhood mooks get espresso and bullshit the way you are supposed too.

I will never go into the new joint. It would be a disgrazia!