Mobile phone etiquette used to be all about whether to take a phone call during a meeting or restaurant meal.
It was good fodder for late night comics and ammunition for disgruntled spouses at the dinner table. We debated when you should ignore a call, whether to turn your phone off or onto silent mode, how loud you should speak while on the phone in a public place and more.
Now, as we use our mobile phones in more ways, putting them away is like holding your breath for 2 minutes. Tricky and uncomfortable.
Today’s mobile phone offers you a window onto the world and it can be tricky to shut that window down. Our phones are our media portals, networking spaces, event listings, maps and more.
And when we’re socialising at nightclubs or restaurants, we’re so used to being ‘social’ via our phones that it’s doubly hard to turn our back on them. What if a friend is trying to find you? What if they’ve sent a tweet and you missed it? Did you remember to check in on Foursquare? Has someone sent you a text?
Then of course, your phone is a powerful camera. You need to take it out, to record the fun you’re having. And you may as well share it instantly, so you visit your favourite app to upload that fresh image to your favourite social media space …
In the end, there may seem to be more reasons TO use the mobile phone than not to.
My thoughts? It depends on the company you’re keeping. If I’m dining with my husband, I know he wants me to look at him, not my Nokia screen. But if I’m with some girlfriends, it’s acceptable for us to have our phones in our palms, to share what’s in our tweet stream, to check in on Foursquare, and to upload ridiculous pictures of each other.
Our mobile phones are part of a fun, easy atmosphere where we share tips for social media alongside gossip about acquaintances. It’s all interconnected. And while we may be having a drink with four or five gal pals, we know there are plenty of other friends on the other end of our phones, tweeting from wherever they are, able to arrange to meet us, or discuss recommendations for our next pit stop.
Judge your audience and have respect for them. It’s simple.
Speaking of audiences: who can forget the episode when Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig had their theatre performance interrupted by a mobile phone in the audience?
It’s essential to turn phones off in cinemas and theatres. I’m also in favour of enjoying a rock concert without filming the whole thing on your mobile. Mosh pits are for dancing and absorbing the moment, not for viewing hardworking musos via a tiny screen. Get real!