Sunday, May 30, 2010

Get to Know the People in Your Neighborhood! Put Away Your Phones!

Cell phone etiquette. I have had no less than 5 people email me in the past two weeks, requesting a blog post on the appropriate usage of cell phones in modern society. Cell phones began as a fashion craze in the early to mid 1990s and have most recently become appendages– foreign “growths” between hands and ears; their popularity has caused an inability of people to remember how to interact with one another. Interfacing with others has become less important, as people spend increasing amounts of time on their cell phones. People no longer have to connect with others directly in front of them; thus, causing the decline of social skills.

I recognize that a whole novel can be written about the when’s, where’s and how’s of cell phone etiquette, but here is a 4-step plan that can help get us on the path to social redemption. We can get to know our neighbors and each other just a little bit better. Not to mention that we will model appropriate behavior for the children.

Step 1- Conversations take 2 – NOT 1!

Conversations are private. We do not need to know about your dirty laundry: literally and figuratively. Seriously, if you must speak about this in public, do it at a decibel in which NO ONE ELSE can hear you.

Step 2- Cell phones don’t eat dinner!

Phones should not be answered at dinner, nor should calls be made. If you feel that the person on the other line requires your attention immediately, excuse yourself from the table and the company of others before following through with the conversation. Translation: do not carry on a phone conversation while in the presence of others.

Step 3- If the lights are out, the phone is off…
Anytime you enter a place in which the lights have to dim, turn your phone off. This includes movies, plays, lectures, observatories, or anywhere else that I might be forgetting… There is nothing more frustrating than trying to concentrate on someone speaking, only to hear the latest Beyonce ringtone; or any ringtone for that matter. In an exercise of consideration, put your ringer on silent or vibrate.

Step 4- Cramped spaces are not cell phone places

How annoying is it when you are in the elevator with three other people, and one of them is yapping his/her head off, oblivious to the other three people in the “room.” That kind of narcissistic behavior is completely unnecessary and should be eliminated. If you are not able to hang up with the person for the 15 seconds that it takes to go up the 10 flights, I recommend asking the person to hold. Exchanging pleasantries is a great way to get to know the people in your neighborhood, which was sung about so wonderfully by Sesame Street so many years ago.

Who are the People in Your Neighborhood? Put down your phone and find out.

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