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A little smartphone etiquette, please


Melissa Robinson


  A recent story on ABC News reported that the average person checks his or her smart phone an average of 150 times a day, between email, texting, voicemail, Facebook and the like. And thatís just checking. Imagine how many hours are spent on the phone, playing games, working, taking and uploading photos, etc... What did we do before smartphones? As phones continually become faster, more complex and necessary, we, as a society become more reliant on them.   Donít get me wrong, I love my smartphone and rely on it for a myriad of things, from making appointments and recording interviews to capturing precious moments with my family, but I have tried to draw a line for myself that keeps me in the real world when it comes to good manners and consideration. And I think this is the perfect time for Ms. Manners to come out with the quick pocket reference guide to smartphone etiquette.

  All around me, every day, people are on their phones - in their cars, at the grocery store, in line at the bank, in the hallway of the doctorís office. Itís a ubiquitous scenario, and Iím right there in it. Smartphones have made certain aspects of my life easier, but I have some pet peeves when it comes to cell phone use, and I donít think Iím alone in saying a little courtesy goes a long way.

  My first pet peeve concerns the gadget known as Bluetooth. You know, that hideous device that some people wear in their ear that screams to the world, ďSee how important I am. Iím so busy that I canít even hold a phone because I need to free up my hands to search the web and drink my super-duper frappacapaccino espresso high octane caffeine concoction.Ē Most people have had the misfortune of standing in line or being in a public place with the Bluetooth junkie, where said junkie carries on a loud personal conversation, and then when he or she realizes they are being stared at, strikes an attitude because youíre in their business! Guess what, when you carry on a loud, private conversation in a public place, it is everyoneís business. Worse than that, is when Bluetooth junkie says something while looking directly at you, and they are actually talking to the person on the other end of the phone line. You say ďExcuse me?Ē only to be met with an incredulous stare as if they were saying, ďCanít you see Iím on the phone?!Ē

  My second pet peeve, and this is a biggie, is the ďthis call is so important that I canít put my phone down to check out of the grocery storeĒ syndrome. The offender of this is so engrossed in what must be a life or death situation, that the person canít possibly end the call, and instead chooses to fumble in a purse or pocket for payment of goods, or worse, chooses to continue a phone conversation while questioning the cashier about an item or price.

  As far as Iím concerned, with a line of customers waiting to check out, the idea of someone continuing a phone conversation while juggling a wallet and car keys, and looking for a debit card or cash to pay, youíre just rude-plain and simple. If the call is that important, step out of line, take care of business and get back in line. Somewhere along the way you got a grandiose sense of self and the idea that what you are doing, talking about etcÖis more important than whatever anyone else has to do. Iíve heard your conversation and guess what? Itís not that important!

  Lastly, when Iím driving in the car, and I look in my rearview mirror to you driving behind me, youíre not fooling anybody when you are looking down, eyes averted from the front, not paying attention to the road. You are TEXTING, yes; I know you are texting and driving. Being stopped at a light or stop sign doesnít give you the right to text. Itís still texting and driving, and quite frankly, this isnít just a pet peeve, because eventually you might kill somebody. A small percentage of drivers may be looking at a GPS app or scrolling for a phone number (which is still dangerous) but for the majority, youíre texting and you need to stopóagain, I canít imagine anything that is that important.

  Cell phones and smart phones are a great asset and can help to make our lives easier, but a little common courtesy goes a long way and thereís no substitute for that, oh waitÖmaybe thereís an app for that.


  Melissa Robinson is a writer and the co-editor of the Henry County Times. She lives in McDonough with her husband and two children.




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