Mobile Manners for Morons

Here’s My Primer on Mobile Manners for Morons (OK, not only morons. The rest of us too)

1. Never talk on your cellphone for more than 10 seconds (that’s how long it takes to say: I can’t talk now.  I’ll call you back”) when you are somewhere where there’s a captive audience:


On a bus

In the waiting room at a doctor’s office

In a public restroom. (Yes. It happens.  Boundaries, people!)

2. When re-tweeting someone’s retweet of your tweet in thanks for the re-tweet. (are you still with me?), it is not necessary to include the original tweet.  In fact, as including your own tweet gives the appearance of you’re having done so simply to retweet yourself, rather than thank someone for doing so, it’s more than unnecessary. It’s bad mobile manners.

3. While it has become acceptable to place your mobile device on the table while you dine out, it’s not OK to place your entire mobile arsenal on the table: iphone, ipad, ipod, old phone for when your iphone drops your calls. It’s the one device per meal rule.  Live with it.

4. If you use a headset to talk on the phone as you walk down the street, have the common courtesy to make the headset visible to passersby.  Otherwise, how are we to know whether you are a normal person talking on the phone, or a dangerous New York wacko, to be sidestepped with care?

5. If you are among the first to get the latest i-gadget, or Droid something, or 47 G phone, don’t gloat. First of all, that’s rude.  Second, they’re going to come out with an updated version of whatever you’ve got in about 2 months, and then, since you told everyone you know about your fabulous new whatever, everyone will know that your device is now obsolete.

6. Don’t text and drive. Or text and bike.  Or text and jay walk, for that matter.  It’s dangerous, and stupid.  And you’re not just putting your life at risk…but everyone else’s as well. No witticisms here.  Just don’t do it.

7. If you are in the middle of an argument with your spouse about which one of you promised to pick up the dry cleaning so one of you would have the dress  she needed for the wedding that she didn’t want to go to in the first place, and that now she hasn’t a thing to wear to, and said spouse is clearly right, since she knows you said you would do it because you always take care of picking up the dry cleaning and why would it suddenly be her responsibility, don’t answer your cell phone in mid-argument.  I’m just saying.

8. If the school nurse calls your cell phone on a day when you had a lot to do, so even though your kid was sniffling a lot you figured, hey, it’s just a cold, and sent him to school anyway, it’s not OK to let the call go to voice mail. What? Like you’ve never done that.

9. Sparkly, be-jeweled cell-phone cases,especially ones with Hello Kitty on them, are unbecoming once you are over the age of 21. Seriously.

So there you go.  Another set of Rules to Live By.

What made me write this? Well, last week, the folks at Intel, always reliable for a thought provoking evening, invited me to a discussion (with cocktails!) about Mobile Etiquette.  Here’s what they had to tell us.

  • Ninety-one percent of U.S. adults say that they have seen people misuse mobile technology.
  • Seventy-five percent of U.S. adults say mobile manners are worse now than in 2009.

Intel brought out none other than Anna Post,  Emily Post’s great granddaughter to talk to us about Mobile Manners, and also brought along Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow and head of interaction and experience research, Intel Labs.  Bell was extremely likable and clearly brilliant.  And she had a lot of insights into why people behave the way they do. “New digital technologies are becoming a mainstay in consumers’ lives, but we haven’t yet worked out for ourselves, our families, communities and societies what all the right kinds of behaviors and expectations will be.” Bell said.

According to Intel’s study, nearly all adults surveyed (over 90%) wish people practiced better etiquette when it comes to using their mobile devices in public areas. Yet only 19% of those surveyed said they themselves were mobile-y rude.

That math doesn’t quite work out, does it.laptop in bathroom

So while Ms. Bell offered explanations and anthropological analyses of why people do what they do – she didn’t say anything about how to teach them NOT to misbehave.

And that’s why I wrote the rules.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to take a call.

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