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Jill MIller: The Cell Phone Part II

This is a blog about manners...and sometimes running.

Polite society has been hijacked by hand-held devices. You can scarcely have one uninterrupted conversation without something ringing, dinging or vibrating.  It drives me crazy. My phone is in the airplane mode more than not because I am becoming militant about our collective dive into the screen.

As an example, my neighbor's daughter visits her every day.  You would think this is sweet except that it's not.  The girl spends every minute while she is at her mother's pacing the driveway, screaming into her phone.  I live across the street and I can hear every word.  I wonder if she gets tired of her own driveway and needs a different one for her tirades.

I was at my office the other day and thought I was losing my mind because I heard this same girl screaming into her phone.  I looked out of my window and sure enough, she was pacing the sidewalk outside the office, screaming into her phone. First I made sure that I was fully awake. Then, I wondered if she had lost her mind and decided to stalk me.  It turned out that she is my office-mate's client which was comforting, at first, until I realized that I must now listen to her during the day as well as in the evening. I may need to move either my house or my office.

This happens to all of us, of course.  In restaurants, trains, buses, parking lots and stores we are forced to be Peeping Toms, dragged kicking and screaming into the lives of perfect strangers.  We do not want to hear these dramas playing themselves out and in some goofy Puritanical turnabout, we feel guilty about listening to them as if we have a choice.  As if.

In an ironic twist, texting has become a welcome quiet relief but then we must endure the screen posture.  You know the one.  The person with the cell phone is gazing, head down, arm bent at the elbow and palm to face, waiting for the person on the other end of this wireless phenomenon to respond back to their text.  This posture has become so familiar to all of us that we instantly know what it means.  When I am with someone with whom I am desperately trying to have a conversation and they assume this position, I stop talking.  It's not worth expending the energy on someone whose attention is only one quarter mine.

In an effort to reclaim some mannerly behavior in the realm of human congress, I have created a list of places in which you should not take your phone.  Notice that I said not take your phone.  I'm sorry to resort to bold italics but what is the matter with you people?  Clearly you are so addicted to these devices that if I allow you to take them with you into these places, you will disappoint me and turn them on for 'just this one call'. Or, you will text in a movie theater and distract three rows of paying customers with the glaring light from your screen.  The list is as follows:

Restaurants

Just outside the doors of stores

Stores

Trains

Buses

Taxis

Movies

Sports events

Church

Meetings of any nature

The office cubicle

Restrooms

Restaurants (I know I said this before but I want to be sure you got it.)

My bedroom

Your bedroom

Any bedroom

If you would rather spend time with your phone than do anything else, stop accepting invitations or making plans to spend time with people who think you may like them.  In case this ettiquette has been lost on you, it is insulting to people that you are with to ignore them in favor of your phone.  Please stop doing it so that I can stop talking about it.  It's exhausting.

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Max September 03, 2012 at 04:57 AM
You know, I agree with you fully -- and yet I find myself doing some of those things too. It's insidious.
troy groetken September 03, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I don't think a ban is the key, but rather remembering one's manners and utilization of a little common sense. If we taught cell phone manners in school as well, our culture with such devices could be potentially changed and improved too.
James September 04, 2012 at 05:35 AM
Teach self realization skills and people need to communicate more saying is that text very important if so maybe you should excuse yourself and make a phone call. I think society is used to an instant response, I say screw it I will text you back when I can. It seems text has become the new rambling mechanism.

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