Hello SOTGC community,
I would bet that most of you are reading this article on you cell phone (or cellphone, as some prefer).You may even be (partially) engaged in a conversation with someone while doing so. Isn’t that our way of life now?Always the multitasker. The overuse of cell phones has taught us to largely ignore the world around us. We go in and out of stores, in and out of public transportation, elevators, you name it – all with phone in hand and our minds miles away. What has this done to our social interactions? And have we become unknowingly rude in public places? You bet! July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month. Wow, a holiday created just to address our rudeness!
I also think many of us are developing ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). We can’t seem to just sit still in the waiting room of a doctor’s office or stand and patiently wait our turn in line somewhere. I must admit, I have to catch myself at times using the phone in public. Like a lot of busy professionals, I’ve justified “maximizing” my time by jumping online to check emails or look up something while waiting in a line. How often do you have the urge to multitask while standing in line at the bank? Worse than using your phone to access your social media is to actually be on a call. Not only are you sharing your business with others around you but if you are still on the phone when it is your turn to step up in line, you will not be able to give your full attention to the teller. It is her job to provide you with great customer service. It is your job to graciously receive it and give her your full attention. And you may miss your cue – “next person in line, please.” Nothing is more aggravating to tellers, as well as other patrons waiting their turn, than to have someone who is on the phone and hold up the line.
In this day and age, where everything is at our fingertips and multitasking is the norm (which, by the way, is no longer a skill to highlight on your resume), it is hard to conceive of a time when it is appropriate to just do one thing – like standing in line and quietly wait your turn. While I welcome cell phones and other technological devices in all their many forms to ease my way of living, I absolutely deplore the insolent creatures they have made us become.
When I first started writing and speaking about cell phone etiquette over ten years ago, there was plenty to talk about (no pun intended). Not too many people were giving thought to their behavior while on the phone in public. And it seemed everyone in line next to you, on the plane, on the commuter bus or train, at the gym or the table behind you at the restaurant had a cell phone and weren’t afraid to use it. As a result, a cultural change was taking place in our society that increasingly more people were concerned about and wanted to address – primarily out of annoyance. Cell phone manners became the topic of discussion on morning news shows. Signs went up in businesses about proper use or no use while patronizing that establishment. Memos went out to employees in retail and other consumer service industries. Some public facilities were even scrambling for scramblers to disrupt signals and force noncompliant patrons to conform. Yet, and still, after nearly two decades of mass production and consumption of the latest and greatest iphones, ipads and so on, and with all the conversation about cellphone manners, “we [still] have a problem, Houston.” Chatting, texting, tweeting and uploading selfies consume much of our time. Perhaps by no coincidence, the “i” in iphones is why we are self-absorbed. Maybe instead of cell phones they should be called self-phones!
The lack of cell phone etiquette has become the largest public disturbance in recent years, as suggested by polls and other research on the subject. Cell phone addiction has also made the list of behavioral addictions, particularly among young adults. With that said, please allow me go back to the basics that somehow are still not being admonished. Here is a refresher on the fundamentals of cell phone etiquette in public:
- Please limit your talking and your volume
- Please turn your phone off or to silent mode (not vibrate) while enjoying the theater, fine dining or a religious service
- Please follow any posted signs or announcements concerning usage
- Please do not let your ringtone play all the way through because you like the song (others may not)
- Please take calls only when it is necessary and safe to do so
- Please do not share your business – personal or company; consider what you say in earshot of others nearby
Notice I said please – another common courtesy often forgotten. These guidelines to cell phone etiquette are no surprise and certainly not an epiphany. But we all need gentle reminders from time to time. To be aware of your improper actions is the first step to correcting them.
By all means, don’t wait until you lose your place in line, or have to be escorted off the plane or out of an establishment because you refuse to get off the phone. Respect others in your environment. And the same goes for texting in these same scenarios. Not only is it rude but a potential hazard. Lack of attention to your surroundings can also put you in danger. I once saw a woman attempting to cross the street while texting and twisted her ankle after stepping into a pothole. You can also be a victim of theft on public transit and other crowded public areas. I’ve heard stories of people having their wallets stolen while they were so engrossed in their phones, and private information stolen by someone looking over their shoulder. The bottom line is this: don’t let your cell phone usage cause you to be rude, injured or a victim of theft.
Let’s make our world a better place by sharing and practicing good etiquette in public places. If this post resonated with you, please share it with others. Tweet, Pin, or share it on LinkedIn or Facebook and help spread the message.
Interested in further reading? Check out these studies:
The Perceived Rudeness of Public Cell Phone Behaviorhttp://books.google.com/books/about/The_perceived_rudeness_of_public_cell_ph.html?id=4MA4ehfaXJEC
Journal of Behavioral Addictions – Cell Phone addiction preliminary reporthttp://www.akademiai.com/content/q41011j715q26n7h/fulltext.pdf
Science Proves That Cell Phones are Annoying and Distractinghttp://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2013/03/13/science-proves-that-cell-phones-are-annoying-and-distracting/