Etiquette in the 21st century
Cell phones (especially smartphones), tablets and other electronic devices keep us connected in ways never before possible. But these convenient gadgets have also changed the way we communicate and behave in public. And not always for the better.
There is a cost to being able to instantly connect anytime, anywhere. How often has someone bumped into you while they were texting and walking? How often have you had to listen to a stranger’s telephone conversation on the bus or in a store or café? How often has a church service or theatre performance been interrupted by the ring of a cell phone that someone forgot to turn off? And how often have you been the perpetrator of these etiquette crimes?
It’s easy to get lost in the magic and fun of the technology and forget the world around us. That’s why it’s important to remind yourself — and your children and grandchildren — that we still have a responsibility to be aware of our surroundings and respectful of the people in them. One way to do that is to occasionally review the following rules for being a good device owner!
- Never have your cell phone on at the dinner table or in a restaurant. Sometimes friends will stack their smartphones in the center of the table and whoever weakens and reaches for their phone first pays the bill!
- Never walk, drive or cycle while texting. It can be dangerous to take your eyes off the sidewalk when you’re walking (you can trip and bump into poles, people and other street furniture), and being distracted by your smartphone while driving or cycling can have deadly consequences, not to mention the fact that it’s illegal.
- Take and make calls only when you have to. Save the long chats for a quiet time when you’re in the privacy of your own home or office. If you do have to take a call, be mindful of the people around you. Lower your voice and keep your conversation as brief as possible, especially if you’re on public transit where those around you can’t escape your conversation!
- Don’t post videos or pictures of a friend or family member on a social media site without their permission. It’s a violation of privacy and it could harm your relationship. And never post photos that could cause someone embarrassment or cause trouble at work.
- Be aware of people’s time. Just because an email or text is a quick and easy way to communicate doesn’t mean you should do it constantly. Each “ding” is an interruption in someone’s day, train of thought, or conversation.
- Don’t stop talking to someone you’re with in person to answer your phone or read a text message. The person you’re spending time with right now is more important than whoever is on the other end of the phone. They can be contacted later.
- Don’t “reply all” if you don’t have to. Cluttering up someone’s inbox is kind of like littering on their lawn.
- If you’re listening to your MP3 player, keep the volume low. No one else wants to hear your music — and if you’re playing it loud enough that it can be heard through your ear buds, you could be damaging your hearing!
- Try not to take the easy route and send email thank-you notes for everything. It’s okay for small, everyday things. But show people that they are important and worth the time it takes you to write and send a proper letter of thanks every once in a while.
Technology is a wonderful thing, but always being respectful of others while you’re using it is pretty wonderful too.
409351 CAN/US (04/15)