Cell phone etiquette: In one ear, out the other


It’s not that I’m all that concerned with all the research that proves we are far more distracted, distracted enough to drive erratically, if we drive while talking on a cell phone. And I don’t think we needed research to prove that texting while driving is just plain stupid.

No, that all doesn’t bother me because, I admit, I’m not the most coordinated or capable of much multi-tasking at all.

I've never been able to talk on the phone and do something else.  I can’t watch TV while on the phone – I can only listen to one thing at a time. I can’t read while talking on the phone. I can’t talk on the phone and do anything else that requires 1) thinking, 2) listening, or 3) talking back.

So, I don’t even try to talk on the phone while driving. Trust me, the world is a much safer place when my cell phone is sitting on the seat next to me; or at least the world in my immediate vicinity is safer. I often wish that more people came to the same realizations and left their cell phones on their seats too because it is no longer the sole domain of the drunk to drive in a dangerous manner!

I love my cell phone, my iPhone4 to be exact. It has replaced the need to carry a purse, a wallet, pens and paper, laptop, a briefcase and a book bag. It slips right into the front pocket of my jeans and that’s where it stays. Ironically, the more the iPhone has replaced the old, traditional tools of communication, the less I actually talk on the phone. (That fits: I’m an introvert.) All in all, this little gadget has set me free.

As much as my cell phone has set me free, I don’t let it take priority. If I’m talking with someone - you know, face-to-face - the cell phone stays in my pocket. I can’t read and talk at the same time, so I don’t even check email or Facebook if I’m actively participating in a conversation.

If I’m talking with someone face-to-face, that is the priority. That just seems to be common courtesy, good manners, etiquette. Just like I don’t interrupt others talking to each other, I don’t let anything interrupt when I’m talking with someone. It’s just simple manners.

The expectations of manners hasn’t changed, or have they? The good folks at Intel have found that cell phones have put a major crimp in things, enough so that they believe the lack of cell phone manners has resulted in a new form of public rage. The more cell phones come into use, the less we behave with manners and consideration. As a result, we are more annoyed and angered around each other.

So, before we kill each ourselves and each other, let’s come up with a set of “manners” we all can agree on. OK? I’ll start:
  1. If your cell phone rings in the middle of a face-to-face conversation, check the caller ID and then ignore the call if it’s not an emergency. The same goes for dinner time. You owe it to your friends and family to be there in mind and spirit, not just body.
  2. Your daily commute can be a big time-waster for Type-A personalities, so if you do choose to talk on the phone while driving, invest in a good bluetooth headset. Then, instead of getting looks that could kill from other drivers, you’ll get those “knowing” looks instead since people will think you’re talking to yourself. Out loud. And answering yourself.
  3. Sure, talk on your cell phone to your heart’s content as you shop Walmart. But, when it comes time to unload your overflowing shopping cart at the checkout, put the phone away. That way, you can use both hands and actually talk to your cashier. Cashiers are people with a thankless job and deserve your attention for doing their job for you. The people behind you in line will appreciate your consideration enough to quit ramming their cart into your heels too.
  4. Texting is great for those quick, impromptu messages you need to send out, sometimes on the sly. But, there is nothing worse than the interruption of a loud clang when someone sends you a text. Mute your phone!
That’s all I could think of right now. Can you add to the list?

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. What goes around, comes around. If you want to be treated well, behave well. Hey, don’t let this go in one ear and out the other. Let’s get back to consideration and etiquette before we all kill each other, shall we?
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