A Short Guide to Smartphone Etiquette

by perpetualflaneur

It’s 2012! There are electrically-powered cars. There are surveillance drones that will soon be hovering above you if they haven’t already! There are groundbreaking researches about health and the human body. There is pink slime for your fake meat needs and even talks of growing food in the lab! There are Facebook and Twitter for increased global connectedness and expression. And, there is of course, the increase in the use of smartphones powered by your chosen wireless carriers bundled with various data plans, depending on how much Megabytes you use and calls and text messages you make. Yes, the very few things I mentioned reflect a multitude of innovations that we’d like to call progress, regardless of how ethically or morally or rightfully questionable they can be.

Before you make any judgments, I admit that I am a smartphone user. I have been since 2008 when I purchased my Nokia N95. Then on, I’ve had it replaced with a Nokia N8, and earlier this year, with the bribing and coaxing of my siblings and cousins who are Iphone users themselves, I caved in and traded my Nokia for an Iphone 4s, though I still have my N8 for its superb features and capabilities. So, yes, I appreciate these technological advancements, and yes, I find them handy most of the time. (Oh, and I have had long discussions about comparisons between Nokia and Iphones, from manufacturing to software and user-friendliness, so I’ll spare you those details. I  choose not to digress.)

I just think that upon buying these “goods” it should be paired with something like An Owner’s Guide to Smartphone Etiquette Emily Post style. Perhaps they already have it in the market, but here is my attempt for current and new users to avoid any social blunders because I have witnessed and have been in some of these situations. So, I am truly writing for those who still haven’t undergone some form of smartphone enlightenment.

GOOD vs BAD COMPANY. When in the company of dear family and friends whom you truly love, whether you are having dinner or having a few drinks, please put your smartphone down. Actually, leave it in your purse, in your pocket, or wherever you usually put it as long as it does not interfere with anything that is going on. Don’t be rude and constantly check your Facebook or Twitter or any of those fun games. Life is short, so live in the now with them! Now, if, on the other hand, you find yourself in a boring or awkward situation or anticipate to be in one, then please keep your smartphone with you, just in case you need some back-up or a quick stop at Google or Wikipedia for trivia showdowns or 9GAG or YouTube for quick shots of laughter with a dash of inspiration.

IN THE CAR. When driving and if your car is capable of bluetooth or has any USB/Auxiliary options, then by any means, connect your phone to your car so you can enjoy your music from Pandora or that playlist that your friend gave you to save yourself from listening to the same songs and sometimes lovelorn radio talk from those FM stations (But if you enjoy listening to AM Radio or NPR, please feel free to listen!) And you know there is an advantage to this too, when somebody calls you, you can answer the phone call without the threat of a ticket or accident, of course, you must do this with caution. Now, if you don’t have these options in your car, please, please, please don’t be one of those people who are on their phones while driving. Doing that will result in two things: first, the Universe forbids, an accident might happen, and second, you might end up being honked and gawked at (or worst, they might give you the finger or the fingers, depending on how many passengers are in the car). The former does harm to everyone while the latter will only weigh more on your part because in those situations you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end, unless you are one of those people who love attention, no matter how negative it is.

WHILE WALKING. When walking, it is only advisable to use your phone when you are actually on a phone call or when you are using your built-in maps to navigate your way through a maze-like street within the city. It is very useful to have those free maps when you don’t know where to go. Now, if you happen to be walking and you happen to search something on the web or check your email while doing so, please remember that you can always stop. Like driving, there are multiple and subtle ways mishaps can happen to you, like getting ran over by a vehicle, tripping, slipping, and stepping on something that should not be on the street in the first place. Ah, there are endless possibilities! Bumping into things big or small is no fun either, what more when you accidentally bump into some gorgeous creature who happens to be walking by. Save yourself the embarrassment, and just put your phone where it needs to be, which is somewhere away from your eyes. As they say, keep your eyes on the road!

WAITING IN LINE. When you are in line, it’s okay to check your phone every once in a while and fiddle with it as long as you are paying attention and you are aware what goes on around you. But, if you are on the phone, either with a phone call or just plain lost within your smartphone’s magical features, please stop. Just in case you forgot, you are waiting in line, so if somebody, say if you, cause much delay, you are halting everyone else’s schedule or plans or simply ruining their day. Pay attention. Oh, and about those phone calls, my, oh, my. We do not want to know what happened last night or how they broke up, well maybe sometimes, hearing this stories can entertain somebody, but most of the time it gets irritating. What matters to you, may not really matter to others. So keep it down will ya?

IN THE BATHROOM. When in the bathroom, it gets a little tricky. You can do whatever you want on and with your smartphone. Do as you wish with only yourself to please! Watch those wacky and funny videos and laugh your way in there. Or, if you are the reading type, peruse through the news or blogs as quick as you like. Or, if it’s music, go ahead, listen and enjoy the rhythm. Look at photos, sync your contacts, respond to those emails! Heck, check your Tumblr, your WordPress, your Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.,  But please, oh please, don’t let the public know where you exactly are when you are doing these things. Sure, some people would want to know what you think about something, or your friends might want to find out what you had when you went to that famous restaurant, but most of your friends or people you twit with, don’t want to see your photos posing in front of your bathroom mirror or finding out about your business there.

So, fellow smartphone users, let’s all be smarter than our phones, and observe the proper etiquette in a given situation! May the smartphone gods and goddesses bring forth enlightenment to you!