Nov 9, 2011

Texting 1,2,3, Texting

Cell Phone Etiquette is simple.  Ask yourself this question: If you were not involved in this conversation, would you want to listen to it?  If the answer is no, then don't have your conversation in public. It's that easy.

Let's consider a couple of examples:

You're having lunch with a friend in a nice restaurant when an employee calls to ask you where to find a file.  Extremely boring conversation.  Take it to the curb to tell her/him to look in the back of the file near the window.  No, not that window, the other window.  No, the second drawer down, in the back, way in the back.  Better yet, text your employee.  No one wants to hear your filing system.

You need to tell your daughter the details of a manicure/pedicure appointment for the two of you. Boring! Go outside and tell her the time, place, etc. Wait, I'm having a thought, what was it?  Oh yes, text her!  We don't want to hear that you had to take a slot at 2:00, not at 2:30, like you had wanted, that her dad says hi, that you took the dog to the vet today and Winkers is feeling a bit better but still has to take his pills for that urinary difficulty.

That area all around you, where people are milling around, crossing streets, sitting in cafes, having lunch, shopping, is called 'the world.' It is where people are living their lives.  Let them.

There are, of course, exceptions. Say you have inside information on who in the PTA has had Botox.  Wonderful public conversation!  Sit in this booth right behind me.  Please speak loudly and slowly. Spell any names that are unusual or long. This would also be a good time for speaker phone.  Other appropriate public conversations include where you keep the key to the safe, where you got a great bargain on shoes, when your company will IPO, your son's score on the SAT, and a secret cure for cancer.

Now, I have a cell phone, and I am as addicted as everyone else.  I love my phone!  I love being able to check my email when I'm not home, let a friend know I'm running late, find the best route to an unfamiliar place, etc.  You would have to pry my cell phone from my cold, clenched fingers. And it took me a while but I finally got the hang of texting. It's silent.  It's private.  It doesn't ruin the ambiance for fifteen to twenty feet in every direction.

I think we have a generational problem with cell phones.  The younguns do not stand around shouting into their phones.  They text.  They mumble.  They can still hear at that age!  We middle-aged and elderly folks are wandering around like drifting boats shouting every detail of our boring lives into the little gadgets in our hands.  It's not the young ones whose phones go off in concerts and lectures, either.  It's the technologically inept. So folks, find someone who can teach you to text and how to use the many other functions of your phone, like turning the ringer to vibrate, or we may have to start mass producing Max Smart's cone of silence.


  1. Agree wholeheartedly about the generational divide. Especially the mumbling.

  2. I think the Cone of Silence is the best solution. C's of S should be available at every restaurant and public place, with (for example) an activation button under your dining table...