Last week I was eating dinner with one of my good friends, having a good conversation and connecting on a significant level. Right in the middle of the conversation my friend whips out his cell phone, glances at the screen, laughs out loud, takes a moment to reply to the text message, and looks at me expectantly.
I was pissed. Whoever is on the phone, no matter who it is, is less important than the person one is with. When it comes down to it, it’s not about the person on the other end of the phone either. This phenomenon is all about a constant need to be connected to everyone one knows at all times.
A few years back Cingular ran a group of commercials starring Inconsiderate Cell Phone Man. This man constantly violated cell phone etiquette, using his phone at the most inappropriate times – in a meeting, on the golf course, on the altar. Lines such as, “It’s pronounced ‘Areola’” and “You smell like bacon, sir,” still ring in my memory.
Today inconsiderate cell phone use is more prevalent than ever before. With the proliferation of cell phones into our culture, common courtesy has gone downhill. Text messages are the new inconsiderate temptress. Instead of shouting inappropriate conversations in crowded public places, people bust out the phone in the most intimate of settings.
At the time of the commercials a few years ago, cell phones were already common, but nothing compared to now. Everyone these days has a cell phone. My thirteen-year-old sister has a cell phone. Text messaging goes beyond just being connected to everyone you know, it enables you to be able to communicate with them at the touch of a button. This ability causes many people to take advantage of the opportunity at even the most inappropriate times.
My grandmother would often lecture me on appropriate cell phone use. She refused to buy a cell phone at first, and when she finally had to break down and get one, she never had it on her. My grandmother “got it.” She cared about whomever she was with no matter who they were or what they were talking about.
“Never answer a call during dinner.” “Never answer the phone when you’re talking with someone.” “Never ever answer the phone anytime someone else might get offended by it.”
That’s what she’d say. She even once told off a man in a restaurant in front of his family, a man she had never met.
This story sounds crazy, but only because more people don’t practice considerate cell phone use. My grandmother was born in a time before cell phones, but even then there were ways people could prove their inconsideration.
Inconsiderate Cell Phone Man was created to remind people to be considerate, but people have since evolved and come up with a new way to show their inconsideration. Human nature doesn’t change. People will always be rude if they allow themselves to be distracted.