Thursday, September 17, 2015

Modern Telephone Etiquette


We all have stories about bizarre behavior exhibited by people using their cell phones in public. I've written here about the clueless traveler who broadcast his credit card number to a subway car full of people while booking a hotel reservation, the dumbass who shared with all of us in the airport gate area his argument with his proctologist's appointment clerk, and the cone of silence some people seem to think descends around them when they carry on highly personal calls from a stall in the men's room ...


But what are the new rules of etiquette that govern use of cell phones in public? I don't know that they've been written down anywhere a la Emily Post, allowing people to do pretty much whatever they want in public. After all, we seem to live in a time of extreme self-centeredness, where one can do whatever one wants, and those who object are the ones with the problem.

So ...

What are Bilbo's recommended rules for modern telephone etiquette? Here are a few:

1. If it's personal, keep it personal. The rest of us don't care about the fight you're having with your spouse. Save the argument for later when you can have it in the privacy of your home.

2. We don't need to know your medical history or the details of your business. Really. If you want to discuss that mysterious lump with your doctor, tell your significant other how your prostate exam turned out, or show the world what a big wheel you are, wait and do it in private ...


3. Don't shout. Yes, we know that cell phone connections aren't always the best, but we don't need you bellowing into our ears so you can have that conversation that absolutely can't wait.

4. Don't ignore the person in front of you to answer a call, unless it's an emergency. This is just plain good manners. Interrupting a live conversation to take a call tells the person you are talking to that they're not as important as the call you need to answer.

And since telephones aren't just telephones any more, there are a few other rules of etiquette that also apply ...

5. If you are with someone, leave the phone alone. Checking Facebook, Twitter, or your e-mail every two minutes, or playing an online game tells your partner they're not important to you ...


6. Selfies are not always necessary or desired. If you want to take your picture with someone, ask their permission before whipping out the phone to shoot the photo. And remember that it's not always appropriate to take selfies everywhere ...


7. Speaking of taking pictures, don't take anyone's picture without their permission. You wouldn't do it with your big 35mm SLR camera, so don't do it with your phone.

8. And one last word about photography: if you come into an emergency situation, help the people in trouble before you take the picture or shoot the video for the local TV station. I'd like to think this is common sense, but we all know that common sense is less common than it used to be.

For more about how telephone etiquette is changing, you can read this short article by Adrienne LaFrance.

Have a good day, but don't call me from a public place to tell me how good it is. And don't call me after 8:00PM, either.

More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

7 comments:

eViL pOp TaRt said...

The last one should come from a sense of humanity rather than opportunism. All of these are good ideas!

Here's another one: Turn your cell phone off when attending movies.

Linda Kay said...

Our movie theater has a cute pre-show notice for shutting off your phone, something about embarrassing you by escorting you out of the movie theater. Our church bulletin asks for technology to be turned off during the service. Sometimes we just forget. When we get together with granddaughters, I do ask them to turn off their phones until after dinner. Thanks for your thoughts!

John Hill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Hill said...

When one of my younger friends is out for a night with their friends (30 somethings) the rule they follow is the first one to go to their phone buys dinner. Otherwise it's dutch treat.

One comedian involves himself in other people's conversations. When they say it's a private conversation he reminds them they are in public.

Mike said...

Because of the cell phone's physical availability people assume the called person will always answer the phone. (Or get an immediate text response.) That was not a problem in the good ol' days when you knew you were leaving a message at the person's home.

Anemone said...

I think it's crass to call people on a cell phone when your on the toilet!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

It's common decency not to call people at a late hour, unless it's an emergency.