Growing up, most of us were taught to mind our manners at home and in public and reminded of the consequences otherwise. Don’t talk with your mouth full, whisper when you’re at the library, sit still in church, and don’t talk during the movie at the theater were common rules.
For many, the world is very different from when we were younger. Dinner is often fast food in the car, library visits are replaced by digital downloads, and many movies are watched at home. It’s become a fast-paced world.
While the dynamics have changed, the basic rules of courtesy haven’t and never will. And in today’s digital world, the rules of courtesy apply more to mobile manners than ever before.
It’s easy to get caught up in our electronic worlds and forget about the human world around us. Here are some timely reminders for common courtesy when using mobile devices.
Shhh, they can hear you.
Lower your voice when talking on your cell phone in public and save private topics for discussions in private. Not everyone should, or wants to, know about that ugly mole your doctor found on your back during today’s checkup. Step aside to a private area and whisper if the discussion of sensitive or confidential topics cannot wait.
Are you talkin’ to me? Then stop texting.
If you’re talking with someone face-to-face, keep your mobile device in your pocket. Don’t try to carry on a verbal conversation with one person while texting someone else. If an important issue must be addressed immediately via your cell phone, ask if the person minds you stepping aside to take care of the issue.
Are you talking to yourself, or Bluetooth?
Do you walk down the street or through the mall talking out loud, even gesturing, to no one in particular? Those around you are wondering if it’s an invisible friend or Bluetooth. While the hands-free device might seem convenient, it can create awkward situations and often looks silly. (And invisible friends are usually more widely accepted than Bluetooth devices.)
Don’t stand, don’t stand so close to me.
If you talk on your mobile phone in public, be sure to put about 10 feet between you and the person nearest you as a courtesy buffer. Be mindful of how loudly you’re talking and what you’re talking about.
Inquiring minds don’t need to know.
If you like taking pictures of family and friends in various stages of embarrassment and posting them to your online accounts, consider that they may not like it. Use good judgment and avoid turning your social media accounts into tabloid material. Be respectful of their privacy and don’t post or tag pictures without permission.
May I have your undivided attention, please?
Whether you’re in a restaurant, church, classroom, theater, sporting event, or doctor’s office, silence your phone and keep it in your pocket. Give the situation, and people in it, your undivided attention. Nothing is more distracting in a theater than the glow of cell phones in the crowd. If you’re waiting in line for a purchase, don’t pass the time by talking on your phone, and absolutely don’t be on your phone at checkout.
Hang up and drive.
It cannot be said enough times: do not use your cell phone while driving. It’s deadly, and doing deadly things while driving is just dumb. Even hands-free devices can be a distraction because your mind is divided between the road and the phone call. Give driving your full attention. If you must use your cell, pull over to talk or text.
You really can live without it (even if only for a day).
Do you think you can’t possibly live without your cell phone, even for a few hours? Is your significant other competing against your cell phone for attention? If so, then it’s time for a break. Take a 24-hour respite from mobile devices once every week or two. Consider it an electronic cleanse of sorts.
While mobile devices have dramatically changed our lives, they shouldn’t replace the simple art of good conversation between people. Don’t miss out on the joy of human interaction. Encourage young adults and teens especially to put phones away and talk to each other when with friends. Look up more at the faces around you, rather than down at your phone.