In this era of instant and seemingly perpetual communication, many people of my generation have questions about the propriety of actions that were formerly impossible. For you youngsters, “propriety” is an archaic term for socially acceptable or polite, neither of which seems very important in high society or low these days. I mean seriously, when a Supreme Court Justice has to admonish the highest elected officials in the land to behave civilly, clearly the lines of decent behavior have been blurred.
So, I’m dedicating this post to the rules of cell phone civility. Some of these could be considered rules while others are simply guidelines determined by the situation. For instance, is it ever appropriate to defecate in the bushes of the First Christian Reformed Church yard? The obvious answer would be a resounding “NO”. However, as the famous Emily Post once said, “What is necessary, is correct.” Sometimes nature’s calls are inopportune and a three-mile walk home with a drawer full can hardly be considered an option.
On to the burning questions that plague us on a more routine basis. Is it okay to use the toilet while speaking on the phone? If you’re talking with a member of your family who, without hesitation, barges in to brush his teeth, it’s a no brainer. It does get a little more complicated when the person on the other end is a stranger or your boss, especially when your boss is a Reverend as mine is! Generally speaking, I would suggest that you postpone your ablutions until there’s no risk of questionable sounds being broadcast. However, if the entity at the other end of the line has kept you on hold for such a long time that ANY normal person would be expected to have to relieve herself, the unfortunate customer service rep is probably inured to the sounds of “plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is”. Again you youngsters may not remember that was the ill-considered slogan of Alka-Seltzer back in the day.
Okay, enough of the scatological etiquette. I think there has been sufficient discussion of where and when texting or speaking on the phone is proper; and those who continue to jeopardize their own lives and yours, neglect their relationships, and give unconscionable amounts of their precious time to their devices, are unconcerned with good manners.
So, consider this: Is it appropriate to bore your victims, err I mean charm your friends, with images of your grandkids, dogs, trip to the buffet on the cruise you took to nowhere (yes, there are cruises that make no pretense of taking you to a destination, the buffet table IS the destination) and your weekly Fitbit report? Again, it’s situational but in general you should share no more than what used to fit inside a wallet, or about six. Now IF your audience shows genuine interest (superficial interest is common but genuine not so much) and pleads to see more, you might ask to see some of their collection before happily scrolling through your entire Google Photos account searching for that really cute shot of your cat playing bocci ball with a gopher.
On that same note, selfies present a quagmire of potential faux pas. It may come as a surprise to some of you that it is now a common practice for men to send photos of their genitalia to women with whom they disagree. I think I can safely say that it is NEVER polite to send an image of a penis in its relaxed state to ANYONE! Men, if you are intending to intimidate a woman, there is nothing less intimidating than your limp weenie. Having once been a young, adventuresome woman, I can conceive of a situation where you might think your member, in an interested state, would be welcome, but do remember the life span (far longer than your carnal interest in the recipient) of an image and its portability.
There are plenty of wonderful uses for cell phones but all of them come with the simple constraint that they not impinge on the senses of others. I forget who said, “Your freedom ends where another’s space begins,” or something to that effect.