Cell Phone Etiquette in a Crowd

Cell Phone Etiquette in a Crowd
Perusing the paper, I glanced upon a comic where a girl is attending a garden party. It’s packed with people. They look like sardines squished in-between the bar-b-que, trees and birdbath. The girl is centered in the middle of the grounds like a bull’s eye. Her cell phone rings. She answers and says, “Thanks for calling me back, I really needed someone to talk to.”

How sad. How true. How embarrassing. How totally slamming on our society as a whole. To think she’s surrounded by people. She can’t talk to any of them yet she'll forgo decorum, grace and general courtesy by carrying on a conversation with someone who’s not even at the party.

What does this say? Well, it says so many things it’s hard to narrow it down. But here goes.

First, apparently no one at the party is worthy of talking to. She’s surrounded by people but none of them register on her give-a-rip-meter to carry on a conversation. Is she really that shy? But shy people have class so what’s with answering her cell in a crowd? Also, she will talk on the phone (the fact that she answered it at a party says loads about her consideration for others), rather than attempt to be considerate of those around her. Her entire act says that it’s not worth her time to meet and talk to these people.

It also says loads about the host. First there’s the poor taste of even inviting this snob. And so help me if she laughs out loud into her phone. That makes her look even worse. And let’s consider the person she’s talking to. That person is clearly not there. Why weren’t they invited? Does the call recipient know that her caller might feel bad that they weren’t invited to this party?

We could go on and on about the poor taste of the character in this comic. And yes, this is a comic. But clearly art is imitating life. There are groups of teens at the mall, the park and even Disneyland who are out with a dozen people and talking on their cells to others not in their group. Is there a reason they can't talk to those around them? There are people in restaurants so addicted to their phones that they will take them to the restroom with them just in case it rings. And don’t get me started on the check out line in the grocery store.

This is phone etiquette at its worst. Cell phones are made to be a convenience to you, not an annoyance to everyone around you. These phones were not created to make you socially inept. But that is increasingly becoming the result.

Look out. Look around. There is a breathing human being next to you who deserves to be acknowledged. It’s your job, being part of the human race, to reach out to others. Say “hello”. Give a stranger a smile. And for goodness sake, talk to the people you are with. Don’t save your best conversations and nicest manners for those who can’t even see you. Kate Spade offers her take on cell phones and other matters in her book, "Manners". The art of conversation is addressed in Catherine Blyth's book, aptly titled, "The Art of Conversation".

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