We've all been taught to say please and thank you, and not to eat with our elbows on the table, but when Mom was teaching us to mind our Ps and Qs, she had no idea that one day we'd be able to broadcast what were were doing at given moment to everyone we know...or run a small country from our telephone. Technology brings all sorts of conveniences to our lives but it also allows us to be obnoxious, rude, and downright stupid in all sorts of bold new ways. And as much as I love Dear Prudence, I'm thinking we need an Emily Post for the digital age.
Within the past few weeks I've sat through dinner while the guy behind me carried on a speaker phone conversation while his dinner companion sat on and watched, and listened to a girl in the bathroom stall at the movies exclaim, “OMG! I got 3 comments on my status!”
Our state of constant connectedness brings up all new issues when it comes to good manners. No one would think twice about having a conversation with a dinner companion, but what if that dinner companion is on the other end of a phone? And is it actually rude to check Facebook while sitting on a public toilet, or is it just gross?
Since there is no Miss Manners for the iPhone, I figure if we should all agree to adhere to a few simple rules for the sake of civilization.
First and foremost, if you are in the presence of an actual human being, he or she is automatically more important than your phonecalls, texts, or cyberfriends.
Second, phones are not for use in public restrooms – even if you're just using them to surf the internet. This is both courteous and hygienic. But it is also because I don't want to listen to your business while I'm taking care of mine.
Third, we all need to remember that what we type online will get around--especially if it's salacious or insulting. If you choose to express yourself in this way, you are not allowed to be surprised or upset at the repercussions.
Fourth, pictures posted online of others should not be incriminating or unflattering, if you wish to stay in the good graces of your friends and family. While you may look hot, your best friend may not be too happy about having a picture of her with her eyes half closed and spinach in her teeth for all the world to see. So, get familiar with photo cropping software.
Fifth, speaker phone is for use in private areas--your car, your home, your office. It's not to be used in a restaurant, store, or library. If you do use it in these public forums, I reserve the right to butt in on the conversation you are so thoughtlessly sharing with me.
I think these five rules lay a strong foundation for our emerging etiquette needs. Should you break any of these rules, you are fully subject to dirty looks, rude comments, loss of friends, and being labeled as a jerkface, and you forfeit all right to complain. Now, go forth and communicate...politely.
Music Bed 2:40 OUT