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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The 10 Commandments of Cell Phone Etiquette

It's my time to vent and decry what the "crazy kids" are doing these days. This comes from months (maybe years) of observing cell phone users in their natural habitats and feeling that more than a few things were off. As always, this is an 'in a perfect world' scenario and not a manifesto I have tattooed on my body and religiously follow myself. But I try, and I think they're solid rules nevertheless. If I forgot an important one, please let me know in the comments!
Superman, a classic selfie-abuser
  1. Thou Shalt Not Flip Through Photos Other Than The One Shown To You
    Someone is excited to show you a photo on their phone! What do you do? You start scrolling through everything like you're the NSA. This is about the general issue of privacy. If someone leaves their phone by you and they're away and it lights up/rings/beeps, you know what you're entitled to do? Say, "You're phone is going off." That's it. Period. You can't read their history, texts, or even who's calling. Their whole life is on that phone. Respect that they probably don't want you to know every part of it.

  2. Thou Shalt Not Ignore Voicemails 
    Look, I get that voicemails are annoying. But if you don't want people leaving you a voicemail, don't set it up in the first place. If someone takes the time to leave you a voicemail, the least you can do is listen to it. Don't make them feel like an idiot for talking to a computer for over a minute for no reason. If it bugs you that much, let your friends know you're not a voicemail person and they'll soon get on board.

  3. Thou Shalt Not Talk On Speaker In A Public Area
    This is kind of like a huge middle finger to every other human around you. You're not that important that you can dominate the auditory space with your now-public conversation. I know; holding the phone right in front of your face is so much easier than lifting it another 5 inches to your ear but life is hard.

  4. Thou Shalt Not Bring Out Thy Phone During Quality Time
    This should be obvious but it's not. Are you Vladmir Putin's photographer? Are you Miley Cyrus' publicist? Then you probably don't need to check your phone every 5 minutes. Set aside time that really is important to you: dinners, dates, babysitting your niece, and so on. If you can't go an hour or two being "disconnected" (ironically translated as "being present where you are") then you probably have serious FOMO issues.

  5. Thou Shalt Put Thy Phone On Silent When Entering A Public Building.
    This just makes sense. If it's a church, school, office, restaurant, you don't want that thing going off anyway. If it's a crowded place, you probably won't hear it otherwise. Just get in the habit and you won't be that person who forgot to silence his/her phone despite the very public announcement at the beginning of the event to do so.

  6. Thou Shalt Not Get Push Notifications For Facebook
    Do you really have to know the second someone "Likes" your photo or status? Or comments? Are you that starved for attention? Don't get me wrong, these things are nice but I fail to see the necessity for a notification of something that could potentially happen 30 times a day. Just check it when you check it. Don't give some electronic program permission to interrupt your life so frequently. Facebook is an attention whore and shouldn't be encouraged in this way.

  7. Thou Shalt Not Leave Keyboard Sounds On
    COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY and a personal peeve. I don't always notice it but I take a commuter train to work every day and it happens often enough. You know what one of the most annoying things is? Hearing iPhone keyboards or candy crush chime away for 50 agonizing minutes. Imagine the "Prize Wheel" from Wheel of Fortune spin-clicking in your ear for close to an hour and you'll understand.

  8. Thou Shalt Not Abuse The Selfie
    I am not anti-selfie. Really. We all have our own cameras on phones now and it's fine to document your life; that's what cameras are for. But don't abuse it. It's like morphine: sometimes necessary, and quite enjoyable, but if you go crazy with it you will die.

  9. Thou Shalt Not Text and Drive - Seriously
    Come on, people. How stupid are we? (I've broken this rule too.) It's kind of like downloading illegal music. Yes, we all know it's vaguely wrong but somehow having that 99 cents in our pocket instead seems so worth it. The only difference is when you illegally download music, you rarely run the risk of actually killing multiple people. Just stop! It's a phone, after all, and that call function still works if you need to communicate with someone.

  10. Thou Shalt Experience Your Phone As An Aide For Life, Not Life As An Aide For Your Phone
    I do social media marketing and I get it. Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and on and on are all great. The message is just not to abuse them. Don't constantly be looking through your eyes judging what would make a great Instagram. Don't plan activities primarily so you can post about them online. Live your actual life and then use social media as a tool for sharing parts (not the whole) of it with others.

What Others Are Saying About This Topic:
Cell Phone Etiquette: 15 Rules to Follow via The Huffington Post
Are Cell Phones Ruining Relationships? via Donald Miller's blog

Related Posts from Blogles:
I Don't Get It


  1. Preach! An especially hearty "amen" to #4 and #10. I have never felt particularly attached to my phone (in part aided by the fact I've never had a smartphone), but here in Sweden I am even more liable to just leave it in my room all day while I go out and live my life. It's liberating.

    1. Having a smartphone really is great/challenging. It requires much more intentionality, I think, not to pull it out during every moment you aren't busy with something else. I don't think you'll regret leaving it at home in such a great place, though I'm sure it comes in handy for ordering more precious American drugs to help you through that cold.

  2. Obviously #4. But also #3!!! Thank you for saying this. It drives me crazy! Also, you just look like an idiot walking around holding your phone up to your face like a karaoke microphone. I'm guilty as charged for #6, but thinking of taking your advice to heart.

    1. *Shakes head at your use of #6*...kidding! I knew someone who was always interrupting our conversation to see what FB was saying, so maybe that's more my own pet peeve. But yes, there's definitely enough cell phone abuse to go around.