Jul 21, 2009

Modern Mobile Manners (or the lack of them)

As you all should know by now, I work in the telecommunications industry. It's six years already that my wage is paid (at least partly, I believe) by the phone and internet users (the other part would be paid by the taxpayers, as I am a public employee). That pretty much would mean, that the more you use your phone and its applications, added value services, the better for me. Your today's sms is my tomorrow's Swatch watch. The increase in the usage, the growth in the number of customers are all good for the business, but I wonder, is it good for people? To be honest, my answer is on a solid NO.

The mobile phone irrupted into the modern life and didn't brought a handbook of manners with it. Manuals explain people how to turn on the phone, how to send an SMS, make a call, take a picture, but it doesn't include a segment about "How to behave when you are around people" and using the phone. Then again, not like people today would actually read the manual.

Sometime ago, I met with an acquintance of mine to have a coffee. He was dating a friend of mine, of whom I was quite protective, particularly since this guy was older than my friend. This guy and I were meeting to talk over certain things that were going on regarding our shared group of friends, and I was pretty much there to make sure my friend didn't got hurt in the process. In other words, it wasn't just "chat over coffee" or "gossip over coffee", but rather a serious conversation over coffee. This guy put his phone over the table, from which I assumed that maybe he was waiting for a very important call, or he didn't trust his pockets and were afraid of the phone falling out. Then, through the conversation he kept looking at this phone, which was really unpleasant. Really, if he was so busy or so involved in something else, we could have rescheduled.

Then a message came and he, without even excusing himself, grabbed the phone, read the sms, answered it and started sending other sms while waiting for the answer of the first one. Then a call came in and he answered it, laughed, had a great time, greeted old friends, and their kids, gossiped about guys they knew, who were seen where doing what or whom. All the while I started freezing because we sat at the balcony, my coke was gone and my pie over. And this was a man who praised himself about being conscious, refined, glamorous and always attentive to manners and chavalry.

You know, I'd love to say that it's only that guy (and I'm happy that my friend didn't end up with him), but truth is that everyday more and more people take up on these bad manners. Sure, you can be waiting for an important call, but Honey, you are not Obama, you are not waiting EVERY SECOND for an important call. Then, the people you are with, physically, have more priority than whomever is calling you on the phone. You made an appointment, you both had to take from your time, you've mead each other take time from other activities, so please show some respect for that other person or other people and silence your phone (all of them can be silenced) and put it away. Don't take the call, don't take the SMS, but if it is so imperative MAKE IT QUICK! And excuse yourself with the person you are with. If possible, tell the person on the other end that you'll return the call in twenty minutes, one hour, as soon as possible, or whatever works for you.

However, if an SMS or a call is so important to you, make yourself and others a favor, and don't make appointments. There's nothing as upsetting as being with someone that's not with you but with his or her phone. It makes you want to continue the conversation through SMS, or just pack up and tell the eager user:

"You know what? Call me when you have time."

And at the end, if you can't pay attention to the person you are with, why do you are with him or her in the first place? Why do you make an appointment if you are going to delve the entire time on your phone?

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