Cell phone etiquette demands that we don’t talk, text, tweet, or Google while in church, at someone’s house, at a party, on an airplane, at dinner, in a restaurant, in a doctor’s office, in line at the store, at work, in our cars, in a theater, in a waiting room, in an elevator, at school, or while walking on a crowded sidewalk.
These cellular devices of rudeness violate so many rules of etiquette, it seems the only way to use our phones politely is to put them in a drawer and walk away. (Set the ringer to silent first, of course.)
However, etiquette is only helpful to us if it’s realistic. And, frankly, asking a nation (a world?) to stop using their phones in public; to go back to calendars, maps, answering machines, little black books, address books, cameras, and “Help. Please call 911” sunscreens; seems to me slightly unrealistic. The phones are here to stay. (Thank God because I really like my phone.)
We don’t need more guidance on cell phone faux pas. We need realistic guidance about how we CAN use our phones in public.
Never one to allow an etiquette need to go unmet, I give you the following pledge. Now raise your right hand and repeat after me:
The Cell Phone Pledge of Good Conduct in Public
I, (insert name here), do solemnly swear that
- I will never choose the face of my phone over the face of the person in front of me.
- When I need to use my phone in a store I will keep my volume down and not block people from something important like the coffee filters. If I need to stop and talk, I will move out of the flow of traffic.
- As I’m in public my language and stories will be G-rated.
- I will not expect the people around me to whisper or tip-toe because I’m on the phone.
- When I’m at a social event I will only answer the phone for work, my spouse, or the babysitter.
- I will pull over the car if the blinking light on my phone is too much temptation.
- If I must talk on the phone in line, I will end the call before it’s my turn to check-out.
- If I need to answer the phone when out with friends or family, (see number 5) I will excuse myself from the table and/or room.
- If I’m pushing a shopping cart and need to text or email, I will find a good spot to stop so I don’t run over you or your children.
- If a ringing phone would be disruptive, I will set my phone to silent or vibrate.
- When people are stuck in close proximity to me (line at post office … ahem, ahem …) I will return your call once I’m done. If it’s a true emergency, I will keep it brief or give up my place in line.
- I acknowledge that “text” does not mean “must respond immediately.”
- When I’m spending time with my kids, I will let calls go to voice mail because their childhood is too fleeting to be the background to my cell phone conversations, tweets, texts, or Facebook updates.
- I don’t have a number 14 but never like to end lists or solemn pledges on 13. Not that I’m superstitious – I was even married on the 13th – it was the only time the venue (Powell Gardens outside Kansas City if you’re curious) was available. But I digress …
So help me God. Amen.
Consideration and convenience can coexist. Go forth and dial kindly.