Yes folks, it's that time of year again that I know you've all been waiting for - National Cellphone Courtesy Month. What's that? You weren't even aware that there was such a thing? Well I'm shocked. Surely you don't think that there's no need for it. Perish the thought.
Fellow etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore first declared July National Cellphone Courtesy Month in 2002 and sadly, it's still necessary, maybe even more so. Why, just a few weeks ago, President Obama had to interupt a speech because someone's cell phone, with a quacking duck ringtone no less, was going off. If the leader of the free world doesn't merit cell phone etiquette, is there any chance for the rest of us?
Wanna prove that you're not a total cretin when it comes to cell phone use? Here are my five tips for celebrating National Cellphone Courtesy Month. I'm sure you can abide by at least one of them for the rest of July.
1. Turn it off - That's right, I said it. Does it really need to be on all the time? Are you SO important? Next time you go for dinner or to a movie, just turn it right off. I'm not talking about putting it on mute or vibrate. I mean, press that big old red button that turns the screen black and put it at the bottom of your purse or pocket. Your date will thank you.
2. Prioritize real people - A real person, that is one who happens to be standing right in front of you ALWAYS takes priority over a virtual person. Simple as that. If you answer calls, respond to e-mails or send text messages while talking to another human, you are sending a message that they are unimportant to you. And we don't want to do that now, do we?
3. If you must answer... - Okay, I get it. You're so important that there are times you absolutely can't turn off your phone or ignore the beeping. Maybe you're waiting to find out that you've been cast in the latest installment in the Twilight franchise. Or you're about to "bag the elephant" client you've been chasing for months. Just have the decency to let people know ahead of time. Here's how: "I must apologize in advance. I'm waiting for a really important call and might have to answer my phone during our discussion". Simple!
4. Don't trap people - Unless your house is burning down, please try to limit cell phone use in any place where people cannot escape from you. This includes bank lineups, grounded airplanes, elevators and, shudder, bathroom stalls. There is nothing more ingratiating than having to listen to someone drone on in a loud voice about their plans for redecorating the guest room, the trials and tribulations of their love life or their latest "player" exploits. Yes, boastful jerk on the tarmac at Dorval. You know who you are.
5. Ditch the cute ring tones - Especially if the statute of limitations on your eligibility to join a frat house has expired. This is particularly relevant for employees who are looking to broaden their horizons. Nothing says "I'm not ready to be promoted" like Mr. T's voice blaring every time your phone goes off. Of course, if you're at work, it shouldn't really be on...Refer to point #1.
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