Debrett’s, that guide to everything you need to know about the upper strata of society and how to behave properly, has, it seems, finally gotten around to tackling the problem of mobile phone etiquette – or the lack there of.
Most people have, I’m sure, wanted at some point to remove a mobile from someone whose behaviour whilst using it is rude or obnoxious and place it forcibly about their person where the sun doesn’t shine. Personally my pet hate is those who use them in the quiet carriage on trains – and I would quite happily string anyone who does so up by their toes.
- Think about what your ringtone says about you: head-banging rocker, fashion-conscious teenager, gamer, sci-fi nerd, smooth seducer, tv addict, ‘invisible’ (default)… Can you live with it?
- If you’re embarrassed by your ringtone in certain situations (trains, office, when you’re visiting your mother) it’s almost certainly the wrong choice. Try again.
- Monitor the volume of your ringtone; if it blares out and heads turn it’s too loud.
- Remember there’s always vibrate. It may surprise your companions when you lurch – seemingly unprompted – to answer an invisible, silent phone, but at least they’ll be spared the ringtone.
- Ensure that your mobile phone conversation is not disturbing other people. Intimate conversations are never appropriate in front of others – try and respect your own, and other people’s, privacy.
- Don’t use foul language, have full-blooded rows, or talk about money, sex or bodily functions in front of witnesses.
- Don’t use your phone in ‘quiet zones’ on trains. Even if you’re not in a designated zone, be aware that your voice will distract a peaceful carriage of newspaper-reading commuters. If the line is bad and conversations inaudible, explain that there’s a problem and hang up.
- Your mobile phone is not a megaphone, so don’t shout…
- If you lose reception, live with it. Refrain from shouting into a dead device, and ring the other person back as soon as you regain it, even if it’s only to say goodbye.
- People in the flesh deserve more attention than a gadget, so wherever possible turn off your phone in social situations.
- Don’t put your phone on the dining table, or glance at it longingly mid-conversation.
- Don’t carry on mobile phone calls while transacting other business – in banks, shops, on buses and so on. It is insulting not to give people who are serving you your full attention.
- Don’t make calls to people from inappropriate venues; a call from a bathroom is deeply off-putting.
- Switch off your phone, or turn it on to vibrate, when you are going into meetings, theatres, cinemas and so on.
- Bluetooth headsets are fine in the car (in fact they’re safe and legal).
- If you are awaiting an important call when meeting someone socially, explain at the outset that you will have to take the call, and apologise in advance. Otherwise, excuse yourself and withdraw somewhere private to make or receive calls. Do not have a mobile phone conversation in front of your friends. It is the height of bad manners…
Quite frankly that list is just simple common sense and general courtesy. That it needs to be spelt out, does depressing, sum up much of what seems to be wrong with people.