Cell Phone Etiquette & Tech Manners.... For Use When You Do Not Wish to Become the Newest Social Pariah

I found this "cell citation" on line and had a good laugh. I would never recommend using it however, unless you want to display just as much rudeness as the person you wish to chastise. Your rude reaction to someone's rude action do not cancel each other out. It does not make you "even." Etiquette does not quite work that way.

I am sure I have violated one or two of these infractions listed below , but I do so very rarely. And while I found this amusing, it is just like I tell my younger etiquette class students; There are many rude things you will see and hear people say and do in movies and on television. They get lots of laughs on the screen, but in real life these things hurt other people's feelings and can cause a lot of anger. Life does not come with a soundtrack or laugh track. Relationships with family members and friends are not usually mended in an hour or so. Sometimes, they are never mended simply because someone opened his or her mouth and said things he or she should not have said.

A few years ago after teaching a manners class at a local school in which I covered cell phone manners, I received an email from a student. He was in third grade, and quite sharp for his age. His email read, "Dear Manners Teacher, Why weren't restaurant tables near the pay phones more popular years ago?" Wow! He had actually read the handout he had received that day on cell phone manners? I praised him for reading all of his handouts and explained why sitting next to a pay phone was about as popular as sitting next to the restrooms. At his age, he probably did not recall ever seeing a pay phone. Come to think of it, the last ones I saw were in Amsterdam in 2007 and the area was covered with graffiti. (The eye pollution of graffiti and the teens that leave their mark with it must be universal.)

Tonight I was listening to the local news and saw a segment on diners complaining about other restaurant patrons using their cell phones next to them in restaurants. Hmmmph! For years I have been hearing restaurant management and staff complaining about the same thing every time I go for staff training at restaurants. I know a few have taken my advice and established cell phone zones for their patrons, but for the most part I usually hear, "Corporate has to make that decision." Ironically it may be patrons making that decision for corporate, with their lack of frequenting establishments who allow tech gadget use to go unchecked by diners. One patron interviewed for the news segment said that he was guilty of using his cell phone in restaurants because he wanted to, "stay socially connected." I know I for one would rather eat in a quiet and calm dining environment, focusing on my dining companions and our conversation, so I avoid restaurants with the noise equivalent of a busy Chuck E. Cheese. I also know though, that as we are staying more "connected" via tech gadgets, we as a society are actually less personally connected to one another. Want to really stay socially connected? Schedule a time to get together with old friends more, and do it in person. Send an actual hand written letter, or a funny card to a friend or relative you are unable to see in person. Hug a loved one. A hug says much more than a text message ever can. Oh yes... and try to follow my rules that follow.

The RSVP Institute of Etiquette's
Common Sense Etiquette for Cell Phones & More...

1. Don’t use your cell phones in restaurants, unless you are doing so in a "cell zone" that the restaurant has set aside for just such a purpose. If everyone wanted to listen to one side of a stranger’s phone call while eating in restaurants, the tables and booths by the pay phones would have been much more desirable years ago. As I recall from my restaurant management days, that was rarely the case.

2. If you absolutely have to take or make a call, keep your voice down so as to not distract or annoy others around you. Refrain from “cell yell”, arguments, playing referee to arguments, foul language, or calls of a personal nature.

3. If you are a visitor for the first time in someone’s home when your cell starts ringing, show some class, or you’ll become part of the fastest growing social nuisance. Ask for permission to take the call first, or step in to another room (not the bathroom, puh-leez!) or step outside to make or take any calls.

4. Learn to text if you are tethered to your phone. It’s more quiet and usually less obvious. Office buildings, shopping malls, grocery stores, etc.... are all areas I really do not mind someone texting in, as long as he or she is not laughing hysterically, muttering while texting, or the person texting is the cashier that is supposed to be ringing up my purchases. Never text while driving. Do not text, or read text messages, while sitting in dark movie theaters, in any house of worship, or if someone is talking to you about any matter of importance.

5. Under no circumstances should you take someone’s picture with your phone without permission to do so.

6. An earpiece is great for cutting the cord. Unfortunately you can sometimes appear to be wandering around talking to yourself. Use the same rules for any other type of cell phone call. Excuse yourself to take or make calls, or have the courtesy of letting others around you know that you are talking to someone, and it cannot be avoided.

Laptops, Notebooks & Blackberry, iPhones, iPads & PDAs, Etc... 

1. To be able to take your classroom or office with you, wherever you go, is certainly a technological leap the world could not have truly imagined 50 years ago. It is also something that people don’t necessarily want seen today. There are places designed specifically for the student, writer, business professional, etc... to set up their offices and work. If you are not in one of those places, leave your laptop alone.

2. When dining or visiting with friends or colleagues, it is impolite for one to pretend he or she is involved in the conversation at hand, while one is actually perusing their messages or surfing the web on one’s iPhone or other hand held device. Unless it is something to share with everyone else, excuse yourself and leave the room or read your messages and web surf at a later time.

3. Poor laptop manners have sent more than one student out of a class or employee packing with a pink slip. Find out any policies regarding open laptops in meetings, etc... (The biggest complaint from teachers? Cheating on tests. Employers? Employees checking email on their laptops or hand held devices during meetings.)

4. NEVER watch or stare as someone is entering a password or pin number. Be polite and look away, or step away, while someone is using passwords, etc... Other

Toys & Gadgets-
1. Keep the volume off when using “Game Boys” and any other hand held games while out in public. This goes for robotic toys and other such noise. Listening to iPods,and other Mp3 players are wonderful ways to pass the time. Listening to complete strangers sing along to music you can’t hear, and don’t want to hear, are not. If you have your iPod on out in public, keep your mouth shut. Sorry, but humming is not allowed either.

2. Be aware of other people and your surroundings when your ear buds are in. People are notorious for suddenly going blind the minute their ears are connected to headphones. If you want to lose yourself in your latest downloads, don’t do it while someone is trying to have some sort of social interaction with you. Worse than losing yourself, you’ll lose friends.

3. With regard to digital cameras, web cams, or video cameras, see #5 under Cell Phones.


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