September 23, 2015

When to Pick Up: Proper Cell Phone Etiquette.


We all seem to have this fascination with constantly using our phones. There’s a good chance we are using it right now to read this article.

The technology boom in the 2000s has made it possible for people across the globe to use their cell phones frequently.

It’s now even gone beyond that, in this writer’s humble opinion.

Our phones are a part of us. Without them, many of us do not feel whole. However, with this expansion of easy access to communication and information through our cell phones, we should be mindful of how, when and where we use them.

One Saturday night, I was with a big group of friends celebrating a birthday. Here are some observations I made throughout this social gathering:

Everyone was checking their phones at least once every 5-10 minutes

About one in three conversations got interrupted or delayed by someone fiddling with their cell phone.

Of us 20 people, everyone (except me) had their cell phone in their hand at one point for more than five minutes. (Yes, I actually kept track of this!)

Finally, when we arrived to our last stop for the night, half of us were either tinkering with their cell phones, scrolling through social media sites and/or having separate text conversations with someone outside the group. When one half put their phones away, strangely the other half eventually gravitated towards their phones.

I’ve noticed that it seems that the more people consume alcohol, the more they want to escape their social environment and engage their phone.

When we are on our phones, we are being disrespectful and not fully present in the moment. But I don’t want to be negative, so instead of going that route, I’ve decided to explain when it is okay to use your phone around company.

After being at that bar for over an hour and witnessing this obsession people have, I decided to break one of my moral codes, and I picked up my phone and began writing. (One of my moral codes is that I will not use my cell phone around company unless it meets one of the criteria below.)

5 Acceptable Occasions to Use our Phones When we are with Company:

1. Emergencies.

I should not need to explain this much, but if something happens that requires using our phones for getting or needing the attention of someone outside the company we are in. Calling or texting for help/assistance is acceptable. If we left our keys or wallet/purse somewhere, need a ride, medication, or any general situation that we need to make contact with someone outside of our company for help.

2. A conversation needs a reference to something that is on someone’s phone.

This could be a picture, sharing contact information or even if we need to search information relevant to a topic of discussion. The usage of the cell phone here should be inclusive and short and directly for that sole purpose.

3. Taking pictures.

Perfectly acceptable to pull our phone out to take pictures with a friend, companion or if we are in a group of friends from our phone.

4. If we step away or excuse ourself from company.

If we simply can not resist the urge to check a social media site, or want to text someone else, we can politely excuse ourself, walk just a bit out of range (and sight if possible) and then use our phone. We should still try to be quick about what we are doing, and if we are waiting on a response, we should either excuse ourselves again to respond or wait till an appropriate moment so we will not disrupt a conversation or an activity.

5. Any interaction with the phone that has been approved by the company you are in.

For example, calling a cab, calling another friend to join the group or calling to check in on something or someone.

When I’m with a group of friends and someone pulls out and twiddles on their phone, I feel like Ben Stein from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Bueller…..Bueller……Bueller…”

Sometimes I’ll even go a step further while in mid conversation, talking to myself and answering my own questions. In extreme cases I’ll start saying outrageous things like, “Holy sh*t, Justin Beiber just walked in here!” Or, “Don’t move; there’s a huge spider in your hair!” Something along those lines to playfully mock them for their cell phone addiction.

This phenomenon of cell phone usage is widespread.

Let us be more respectful to the company we are in. Our phones are not going anywhere, and we will always have plenty of time to get caught up on what we think we are missing when we break from from our friends and go our separate ways.

Practicing proper cell phone etiquette in public is paramount to displaying respect to those around us. It also helps us to be more engaged and to truly enjoy and honor the relationships we have.

I have more fun with my friends or my companion when they are present and engaged with me—and not their phones. Personally, i smile more and am more pleasant to be around when we focus on each other and not that thing tooting in our pocket.


Relephant Read:

How Having an iPhone Changed Me—in the Worst Ways.


Author: Adam Wilkinson

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: lifeofmai/Flickr


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