Did you know July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month? If not don’t worry, I wasn’t aware of this either. Due to the fact that our world is run by cell phones, I think it is important for people to be aware of proper ─ let’s call it common sense ─ cell phone etiquette. I am sure at some point in your life you have become bothered by someone using their phone nearby or at an inappropriate time. I read an interesting theory from Will Schwalbe, the author of Tech Etiquette Manual stating that if you wouldn’t feel comfortable pulling out a crossword puzzle and working on it, then you probably shouldn’t pull out your cell phone and use it.
Keep that theory in mind when going through the few scenarios below that display poor cell phone etiquette. As you read them, I want you to ask yourself these questions: Are you a culprit of this poor behavior? Do you frequently see people doing this? Are the people you surround yourself with lacking proper cell phone etiquette?
If you find yourself answering yes to all these questions (and even if you didn’t) I encourage all of you to check out one of the nation’s top expert on etiquette and protocol, Jacqueline Whitmore’s tips for wireless users who want to avoid being offensive.
Scenario #1: The over engaged cell phone user
You go out to eat with a friend, excited to talk about The Game of Thrones finale. You sit down at the table and your friend pulls out their phone, and is so deeply engaged that they aren’t even listening to a word you’re saying. You stop talking and sit there, and soon after you grab your phone and start texting. You and your friend have now become two people sitting at a table, looking at their phones.
A co-worker told me that she witnessed a young couple on a date sit through the entire dinner tapping on their phones. She happened to be on the subway with them as well, and they were consumed by their phones while waiting for the train and during the train ride. My co-worker told me that she’s heard this type of date behavior has become a cultural norm and gaining popularity. Assuming that they wanted to be on a date together, it says a lot about a new era of disconnection. Have we forgotten how to be present and connect with others? I get ‘shy’ but how are we to learn or get better if we don’t try?
The above picture of me is proof that even I forget proper cell phone etiquette. It is so easy to slip away into the World Wide Web and forget about what’s going on around you. Allowing yourself to slip makes you no longer present, and you end up giving an electronic device, that mirrors images, all your attention rather than the real thing. (Do you see how impersonal that is?!) One solution for this situation is to turn your cell phone off when you go out with others. Yes, it may be hard but interacting with others is so much more rewarding.
Scenario #2: The avid selfie taker
You’re walking down the street and you see a really interesting structure you stop to take a look, and admire its beauty. Unfortunately there is a crowd of people standing smack dab in front, blocking your view. You try and get closer to see it better but there are people all over. They all have a cell phone in hand snapping pictures of themselves, or looking through their phone instead of their own eyes. OK, so a selfie with a tiger is cool, but don’t let your phone obsession annoy others.
Once again, I have done this. Instead of enjoying the actual view of the world around me, I find myself taking pictures. In the moment I don’t realize that it is better to be present and appreciate what is in front of me rather than a picture. Many people engage in this behavior without thinking of how distracting it can be to others.
Scenario #3 The distracted driver
You’re driving on the highway and you notice the car in front of you is swerving all over the place. With the hopes of preventing a potential car crash, you turn your blinker on, switch lanes, and as you are passing this reckless driver, you turn to see what they are doing. You come to find out that they are focused on their cell phone, not even paying the slightest bit of attention to the road. Argh.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve never sent a quick text while I have been driving. You may think, ‘It’s no big deal, there are no cars around, I will just look down and answer this,’ but really those five seconds of looking down can change your life forever. Did you know that 1 out of 4 motor vehicle crashes involve a cell phone? I came across that startling fact and many more in a Huffington Post article. I am sure you’ve heard this time and time again, but your text isn’t worth putting someone else’s life in danger. Every day, I see drivers with a phone pressed to their ear with one hand on the wheel driving through an intersection or making turns; or texting while driving in a parking lot where children, elderly or you and me are walking. I say to myself: Just how important is that text or conversation? I promise it can wait and if it can’t pull over. You will be doing yourself and others a favor.
Scenario #4: The cell phone rule breaker
You’ve waited a whole month to see this new movie in theaters. You get there early; you sit in your seat and wait. The anticipation is driving you crazy. The credits end, the lights dim, and all you can notice is a beam of light coming from two rows ahead. Annoyed and distracted by the cell phone, you decide to get up to complain, and just like that you missed the most important part of the movie.
Don’t be the person that pulls out their cell phones in an area where it can disturb others. You may think no one notices but they do— it’s distracting and hinders other people’s experiences. Respect areas that prohibit cell phone use, it’s restricted for a reason!
After reading these scenarios I hope that you take into consideration how you have been affected by rude cell phone users, or how you have affected others. In honor of National Cell Phone Courtesy Month ─ I challenge you to become a courteous cell phone user.
As Blogger and budget aficionado, Tara K. helps students across the country enhance their knowledge about money management and everyday life. She is constantly looking for new ideas to transform into great advice for you. Pursuing a journalism major, Tara K. has a passion for the art of inquiry, which is conveyed through her writing.