I had a conversation with a grown-up today that made me recall my serious thought on suggesting a new class for all of us who are now engaged in the technological world of cell phones and texting. I'll throw it out there right now, so you can decide which side you're on. I honestly, truly believe that we need to incorporate a class into our society on the simple, although seemingly forgotten, rituals of common courtesy. There should be a handout that goes with every phone that is sold. Class required: Cell phone etiquette 101.
We've created laws to ban talking on the phone while driving, we're working on laws to ban texting while driving--common sense has now been made law. But I digress...
Honestly, I think that, with new technology, should come new opportunities for learning. Our kids are better at figuring out what our phones can do for us than we are, however, we are much better at knowing what it is to be polite and well-mannered, and it is our duty to pass that along to our children. It is an even trade, if you'd like to think of it that way. But, what of the thousands of adults that have these devices and show, shall we say, poor judgement, when using these devices in a public or social setting? Are they to be forgotten? No! I say if you can have a class on "Relaxation" in college, why, then, can't we come up with a pre-requisite for cell phone usage?!
In this class, the first thing I would do is ban all cell phones. No, you can't have it in your pocket, or on your desk to look at, or in your purse, No! You are in class, and,
Rule #1 is: when engaged with people in a structured setting (school, a movie, a play, dinner...I can list them all if need be) your focus should respectfully be with those people, the actual bodies, who are speaking to you, right in front of you, in person. I will admit I broke this rule yesterday. And, shame on me. I was with a friend for lunch and I had my little gadget sitting right next to me...almost pulled up a seat for it...shame on me. So, no cell phones in my class... about cell phones.
Rule #2: When engaged with actual people, right in front of you, as in said situations above, putting your phone on "vibrate" is NOT the same as putting your phone away-far, far away. We've all been there, "Oh, I better 'turn my phone off' before the movies starts." (I'm putting my phone on "vibrate" now, because, Lord knows, no one on the face of the earth can get along without me for a couple of minutes let alone an hour and a half...except for the person I came to the movie with who I will interrupt at the drop of a hat to answer the "vibration"!) I know, we all have our reasons...mine, yesterday (yes, I broke rule #2, too!) was that my oldest might not wake up in time to be ready to be picked up for her babysitting job (see "Two for One" post!). Shame on me, again. Really.
Rule #3: I like this one. It isn't mine, it came from the grown-up I was talking to this morning. Whenever you see someone talking or texting on the phone, in a restaurant, and you see another person sitting across from them, picking at their food or staring into space, waiting to have a conversation with someone, tap the texter on the shoulder and say, "Boy, I feel for you, that person across from you must be really boring if you have to have a conversation with your phone." And then, smile at the person across the table, and leave. You can watch what happens from your table if you want...but don't text someone to tell them about it.
Alternate Rule #3: When in said situation, tap the person who is staring into space on the shoulder and ask them if they'd like to join you for a conversation. Yours is a "no-cell" table--the newest thing since the "no-smoking" ban...that'll get things going!
Rule #4: If you MUST carry a cell phone into a social/structured situation for a legitimate reason (I'll use mine, and, that I am the emergency contact for my kids), then, please, if you get a call from anyone other than that emergency person, let it go to voicemail. Adhere to rules 1 and 2. If you MUST answer the phone, APOLOGIZE to the person(s) you are with. Common courtesy. You are interrupting!! Excuse yourself and take care of the situation quickly. Everyone is busy, has obligations, but, these people actually took time out of THEIR day to be standing in front of YOU, spending time with YOU! Respect that for the honor it is!!
Rule #5: Be a role model for others. You can say you don't mind if others interrupt you to take a call, or text, or play a game while you're talking to them, and, if that is true, well, there's a special place for you... called a Single's Bar. Seriously, take a vow, "I will not put my pretty little device with fun little buttons above the person, body and soul, I am with right now."
I'm going to go apologize to my friend now...