Do you remember the simple yet complicated time when only stock brokers, Zach Morris and doctors had cell phones? You could be sitting in a restaurant and not see the majority of the restaurant staring into their smartphones, they actually looked at each other. Each other! I know, crazy, eh? Nowadays we have toddlers who are addicted to iPads and people who can’t put their phone down to speak to wait staff. There’s only one person I know who doesn’t own a cell phone of any kind, so it’s time for some Bill Maher style new rules to keep society intact.
New Rule #1- Keep Your Phone Off The Dinner Table
Next time you set the table for dinner at your house or walk into a restaurant, I want you to notice something. Look at the table setting and pay attention to what’s included- cutlery, plate, glass, napkin, right? I don’t see a space for a cell phone on the table. I even consulted Emily Post and nope, there’s no inclusion of a mobile phone as part of a traditional place setting. So as the first rule of the mobile etiquette guide, I say leave your phone in your pocket. I’m totally supportive of legitimate reasons like an important work call, but checking your phone every 10 seconds to see who’s following you on Twitter is just rude. When I go to happy hour I want to drink cheap wine and actually catch up with people, not watch them play on their phone.
New Rule #2- Selfies: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
For Christmas dinner, we went to the Pacific Rim Fairmont buffet of glory. After dinner, because we needed to consume another 4000 calories, we went to the lobby lounge to enjoy the eggnog rum drink. While enjoying our delicious drinks, two young women came to sit in the seating area next to us, and proceeded to have a 30 minute photo session (I kid you not). I wish I had filmed it. They would take turns acting out poses for action shots, then acting out model poses for still shots. At one point we were all so mesmerized (horrified?) that we stopped talking and just watched the slow moving trainwreck of vanity. They didn’t order a drink, they didn’t talk to each other except instructions to get the best photo angles. This behavior is becoming more and more common as technology seeps into our everyday lives that it’s barely regarded as strange anymore. I say with regards to selfies, unless you’re standing in front of the Parthenon or the Eiffel Tower, get over yourself. No one cares about your gym selfies or you and your brunch.
New Rule #3- Check Your Ring Tones, We Aren’t Deaf
Everyone has a story of a phone ringing at a horrible time- funerals, movies, meetings and weddings. Years ago my phone rang in a job interview and I still cringe at the memory. To this day I’m still positive that I turned it to silent so I have no idea what evil technology forces were at work that day. We’ve all been there, but the problem persists even as tech progresses. It’s becoming more socially acceptable to just shrug when a phone rings loudly and disturbs everyone. True story: At a previous job, a vendor was in a meeting with the marketing team and his phone rang very loudly. So what did he do? He took it out, looked at the caller ID and put the RINGING PHONE back in his pocket. If this isn’t the mark of a serial killer, I don’t know what is. Since the days of having your favorite song as your ringtone are long gone, let’s just keep tones low or on vibrate, especially if you’re in a meeting.
New Rule #4- Resist the Urge To Pick Up Your Phone When You’re in the Middle of a Human Conversation
Picking up your phone and aimlessly texting or surfing Instagram while in the middle of a human-sitting-in-front-of-you conversation is something that kills me about society. I see it all the time. For example, I’ll be talking to someone about my excitement for the first season of Fargo and then they’ll just pick up their phone and start texting. I know what you’re thinking: “Kirsten, they’d rather be dead than listen to you prattle on about Fargo,” which was my first assumption too. However, this happens all.the.time. I understand if you’re talking about meeting up and everyone pulls out their phone to check their calendars because that’s reasonable. Waiting for someone to buzz into your apartment? Sure, go ahead and pick up the phone. Being reasonable is the missing component of mobile phone etiquette.
Technology trends are thrilling and fast paced but we need to take a step back and assess our behaviour. Cell phones have become so common that all our horrible habits have completely ballooned. One person glued to their cell phone was never a big issue; it becomes a problem when every single person is on their smartphone. Some people say that technology gives us less face to face time but it seems to be a conscious choice on our part. We decide to pick up the phone or the iPad. We decide to text and post on Twitter while at a family dinner. We control technology (for the most part) and we make the choice to take a million photos of our eggs Benedict or walk into a bear while texting. It’s time we hold ourselves and each other to a higher standard. So look up, remove your headphones and check out what’s going on in the world, there’s lots going on! Now if you’ll excuse me, my phone is ringing.
*Special shout outs to Flora, Clarence and Morgan for their input!