Mobile Etiquette: Lost In Conversation?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on March 1, 2011

Technology is meant to better human lives. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. While researchers are still unsure of whether smartphones are good, bad or neutral for humans, there’s no denying the fact that our mobile etiquette is getting worse, not better.

The explosive growth of mobile phones has certainly made communication easier than ever. Unfortunately, it’s also meant that the days of good technology etiquette are over. The recent Intel survey confirms that the lack of mobile manners has created a new form of public rage and mobile etiquette seems to be a thing of the past.

Whether it’s use of mobile devices during driving, talking on a cellphone loudly in a public place, chatting during movies, walking in the street while texting or talking on the phone or even discussing the day’s events in a public bathroom – there seems to be no end to how people “misuse” mobile technology.

Will mobile etiquette forever be lost in the rat race for “public display of technology”? I hope not.

In hindsight, the findings of the recent Intel survey aren’t surprising. Nearly 75% of the 2,000 respondents surveyed believe mobile manners have worsened since 2009. Nine out of ten American adults claim they have been victims of the so-called “misuse” of mobile technology. Surprisingly, only 19% of the respondents admitted having poor mobile habits themselves. What a confession – partners in crime! Though the Intel survey covered only U.S. residents, I see no reason why the findings would not apply just as well to Canadians or people of any other nationality.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, cell phones were considered to be a luxury few years back. Now, they are a necessity for some and an addiction for others. The Intel survey highlights that one in five adults admits to checking their mobile device before they get out of bed in the morning. Clearly, gone are the golden days when people started their day with a prayer. Thank you Intel for excluding teenagers from this survey or else the findings would have been even more depressing.

Unfortunately, the lack of mobile etiquette is slowly being accepted as a ground reality. People believe that the best way to deal with such situations is to turn a blind eye (and a deaf ear). Does the need to be constantly connected give us the freedom to abuse technology and resort to public loudmouthing? I don’t think so.

I admit that I’m no saint when it comes to using technology but I make a conscious effort not to disrupt others through my mobile deeds. As etiquette expert Anna Post puts it

“Etiquette is first and foremost a question of awareness”

And I certainly believe it’s never too late to be aware. What do you think? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. Follow by: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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Matt Klassen March 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Great post Gaurav. I’ve often thought about people’s general lack of etiquette and awareness of others when using their mobile devices. In my mind, however, etiquette is something that needs to be learned, meaning that someone out there needs to teach it.

For the adult generation, we’re the ones that saw the age of smartphones get usered in, and I think we’re still trying to figure out how to appropriately use them. For the younger generation, they’ve only known the mobile age, and thus have smiply adopted the etiquette demonstrated by everyone else, which is to say, no etiquette at all.

Ajay Deewan March 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Nice post Gaurav! Completely agree with you and reflect the same thoughts. When you talk about etiquettes, the first thing that comes to my minds is people talking on their cellphones while driving cars/bikes. This is probably the worst thing a person can do with a mobile. I still remember the good old days when I went to school/college and there was no way for my parents at all to get in touch with me while I was out. Their anxiety only ended when I entered the house and they took a sigh of relief knowing that their child is safe! But remember, this also meant more trust because they knew the child would seldom go wrong!

Now with call rates also dropping at exponential rates, resulting in abusive usage of mobile phones, people have literally started talking nonsense and also the pettiest of things like when is a person coming home, or what is cooking at home today and the list of such things continues! This also means lesser trust of parents in their children, as they always want to know their current whereabouts, who they are with and so on.

On one hand, over mobile phone communication has eliminated distances and on the other hand, it’s also emerged as the most disturbing factor in our peaceful lives, not to mention the missing etiquettes, which actually started the whole conversation!

And yes, I think there is no turning back now, as we have come too far! What you are asking for is a world-wide movement which I don’t think is possible, people will always have other high priority items to take care of, like am sure you also have one right now 😉

Abdul G March 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm

What’s worse is going out with a friend for dinner and having to fight for your friend’s attention because their cell phone keeps ringing. Or they keep checking email often replying in mid conversation. Many have forgotten common decency and respect. A shame really.

Nice post.

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