I’m one of “those people”. I love technology and gadgets. I’m not exaggerating when I say my iPhone changed my life. It’s always within reach and I use it for just about anything you can think of: a calendar, an alarm clock, a calculator, for games, web browsing, email, text messages, to watch basketball, to settle arguments. Sometimes I even use it to make phone calls. I have apps that keep track of what I eat, when I exercise, how much I weigh, even when my period is due. I can’t imagine life without it.
One thing that fancy phone doesn’t come with is manners and instructions for how and when is appropriate to use it. I try to be a responsible and well mannered smart phone user but for some reason, it’s very difficult. The best method I’ve found so far is to observe someone being obnoxious or inappropriate with their phone and then make sure I never do that. I don’t use my phone in the car, that’s a no brainer for me. When I see people doing it, I try to make eye contact and then mouth the words “HANG UP”. I also try not to talk on my phone in public because that’s one thing that drives me crazy when other people do it. Sure, I understand there are times it may be necessary or appropriate and that’s fine, just stand still in an out of the way place and talk in a normal tone. I’ve done that. But wandering around a store with your phone held up to your face on speaker mode is rude and annoying to those around you. Same with the guy at the booth across from me at a small restaurant last week, who ate his entire lunch while wearing his Bluetooth earpiece and talking very loudly about work meetings.
I see signs up in places quite frequently, asking that patrons refrain from using their cell phones. I also see those signs ignored (do you seriously need to be talking on the phone while you’re at the gym?!) just like I see people using their phones while driving in a town where it’s illegal. I wonder why people think the rules shouldn’t apply to them or why that urge to use their device is so strong that they can’t wait til they get home? And I know that even people who engage in these behaviors often find it annoying when they see someone else doing the same things.
I’m not really sure what the best way would be to implement a set of guidelines. Maybe a good start would be: If you are getting your phone out to do something in public, think about whether you would find it bothersome or unsafe if you saw someone else doing the same thing. Perhaps if we start holding each other accountable for our actions we can start treating each other better.