Have you ever felt that today's smartphones were actually more of a burden than a blessing? Do you find people who constantly take calls or send text messages irritating? Don't worry, you're not the only one who feels that way.
Unfortunately, people tend to forget what life was like before cellphones played an important part in our modern lives. Shockingly, 10% of people 24 and younger actually think it's OK to text during sex which brings a whole meaning to the term multitasking.
Seriously, if you want to improve on your cellphone netiquette then keep reading below: At a restaurant
Putting your phone screen-up on the table is like ordering dessert -- one person does it and everyone else follows suit. Never mind that phones do not belong amidst tableware. As soon as a text pops up or a call comes through, everyone else at the table is trapped in conversational limbo while you have your own digital tete-a-tete.
If you must remain imminently reachable, simply make a big show out of it: "I'm so sorry to have to keep my phone out. Jess is supposed to get here soon, and I don't want to miss her."
The others will get the point. Either that, or they'll stick you with the bill. Don't worry, you'll likely be too distracted by Foursquare to notice.
On the sidewalk
It's one thing to walk and talk with your phone glued to your ear. Research finds that you're more likely to get run over while yakking, but hey, that's a risk you take. However, tucking your chin to your chest and staggering along whilst reviewing your Match.com updates or checking the Facebook RSVP list for your "America's Got Talent" viewing party is both stupid (cars!) and obnoxious.
It's all about spatial awareness: Those who walk-n-surf tend to weave to and fro, making them impossible to pass on crowded or skinny sidewalks. Park yourself out of the current and against a wall, finish your phone time and pocket your cell before re-entering the deadened, zombified stream of pedestrian humanity.
Special request to those of you who live in subway-arteried cities: I know you're super eager to breach fresh air and burst into the service zone, but for heaven's sake, wait until you've crested the stairs to turn your attention to your mobile.
Your slow climb is pissing off scads of already addled public transportation users. One day they will push you to your death, and all those shuffling aforementioned zombies will likely trample you under their distracted soles.
When cool stuff is happening
Manners aside, here's the big danger with packing every spare moment with a cybercheck: Eventually, idle but perfectly interesting moments (sitting on a park bench, people-watching at a café) become excuses to busy yourself with your touch screen.
Remember that iconic New Yorker cover from last Halloween? Clever, sure. Terrifying, absolutely.
Soapbox, prepare to be climbed: Challenge yourself to go a week without using your data plan. Pretend you're on vacation overseas and can't afford the rate. Turn off Push and Fetch and all the other emphatic verbs that bring inane Facebook updates and new e-mails to your attention like a cat proudly dropping an especially fresh rodent at your feet. Stick to phone calls and texting and check everything else exclusively from a computer.
You'll see passersby, not pixels, when you're riding in a car; squirrels, not a screen, when you're waiting outside to meet a friend. And you'll make the liberating (albeit depressing) discovery that when you fire up your e-mail again, the world has continued to swivel without your immediate viewage of e-coupons from Suave and that cat video from Uncle Bob.
Those are best dealt with when you're at your desk and supposedly working anyway.
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