The Unofficial Rules of Public Cell Phone Use

By: NIcole Lero

Pretty much everybody has a cell phone these days. What was once a luxury item has become a virtual necessity, as these days, being accessible at almost any time is essential. Additionally, people have become used to cell phones as a norm, and therefore, have no qualms about having them with them at all times. It's not surprising that true etiquette standards and rules have not been fully established, given that the technology became a part of our culture relatively quickly. Wondering what some of the basics are? Look no further.

Most people's biggest complaint about cell phones in public is the amount of noise they make. No, not the phones themselves, but the people on them. People have a terrible habit of screaming into their cell phones. This could be because they don't realize that the person on the other end can hear them just fine if they speak in a normal voice, but it is most commonly caused by their own inability to hear things as clearly as they'd like. It's as if the people assume "I can't hear, so obviously, the other person can't as well." This is rarely the case. However, everyone in the room, or in a multi-mile radius, can. How about turning your volume down and using what your mom called an "inside voice" when you were a kid?

The second biggest complaint is people who refuse to turn their phones off in public places such as movie theatres, live performances, and restaurants. Unless you are a doctor on call or waiting for some sort of emergency call, there is no reason to have your phone on in most of these places! And if you are, there is no excuse for not putting your phone on its vibrate setting. Your may be cool, but nobody else wants to hear them in these places! The sound of a phone ringing when people are watching a movie, a play, or a performance... or even just eating a meal, can be incredibly jarring and irritating. It's only worse when someone starts speaking loudly into the phone in these situations. For more on loud cell phone speaking, see the previous paragraph and commit it to memory.

As you can see, in these ever-changing times, we face many challenges we didn't in the past. When phones were only used in the home, nobody had to worry about how loud they spoke, or when it rang, because they weren't in public and affecting everyone around them. But now that phones are everywhere - and in the bag or pocket of almost everyone - the rules have changed a bit. And while they haven't been carved into stone, it's generally safe to say that they should be observed by everyone for a more polite society.

Cell Phones
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