Smartphone Etiquette 101
September 26, 2013

Smartphone Etiquette 101

Like many other Americans, I am the owner of a smart phone, an iPhone to be exact. I recently wrote about my ancient iPhone 3GS, and soon I will be the proud owner of the iPhone 5S like many others in the world. I really enjoy my smartphone. It holds my documents, gives me access to the internet and my email, and has apps like National Geographic and Kindle that allow me to read myriad articles and stories. I even enjoy playing Words with Friends with a select few in my life.

Yet I often find myself frustrated by the smartphones.

Really, I find myself frustrated by the way people use smartphones all of the freakin’ time: everywhere, for all occasions, nothing is sacred any longer. Even at dinner or on dates or at events, people choose their smartphones.

Then I saw this video on YouTube:

All I could think was, “Yeah. I totally can’t stand all of these situations.” This, of course, made me want to write a blog politely reminding us all of good smartphone etiquette. I know. I know. Nobody likes to be told how to act or what manners are best, but sometimes we just need a little refresher. These suggestions come from a Seattle Times article although I have rearranged them from least to most important.

7) Checking your phone is great while you wait. But when it’s your turn, be ready.

I can’t tell how many times I have been on queue somewhere and had to wait even longer because someone else was holding the rest of us up by not paying attention to the line. Instead, that person was checking Facebook, tweeting, or just messing around on his phone. This is rude and disrespectful to those in line behind but also to the customer rep or cashier. Pay attention and put away the phone when it is your turn.

6) Don’t ask people to find information you can easily find yourself.

This pertains to directions, operating hours, and other easily accessible information like movie times. You can google that just as easily as someone else, so just do it. The article suggested checking out, which really pokes fun at this issue. Check it out.

5) Proofread

Just because something is posted from a phone or texted does not mean that we can ignore grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Take one last glance at your post or text before it leaves your phone. We all send things in a rush, but that is no excuse for sloppiness. In the words of the Seattle Times article, “It’s not that language is sacred so much as the sloppiness cheapens your message.” Plus, do we really want to send out texts that make us look like we don’t care or we aren’t educated?

4) Let people control their own stories.

In other words, do not post pictures, information, or experiences of others until they do. For instance, if your bestie gets engaged, let her tell the world in her own way. Then contribute to her happiness. Don’t tell her story before she can. That’s just not cool, man.

3) Consider it the Golden Rule of Facebook: Don’t post photos of friends you wouldn’t want posted of yourself.

Well, duh.

2) Honor heavy conversations by having them on the appropriate channels.

Don’t break up with nor fire someone via text. And don’t ask someone to marry you through text either. All of these are rude, inconsiderate, and just a jerk move. If something is important, a face-to-face convo (or at least a phone call) shows that you understand the import of what is being said. Just because we can text does not mean we should. Conversations of deep emotion deserve the respect of a voice.

1) When you’re with friends or family, actually be with them.

If you are having lunch with loved ones (friends or family alike) do not spend the time on your smartphone. If you are at a birthday party with loved ones, do not steal the attention by taking pics of yourself in front of the cake. And if you are out on a jog or hike with a partner, don’t interrupt that time with a casual phone call. Be with the people you love. Sure, sometimes it is okay to stroll on the web while with friends or family, but most of the time, it just says that you don’t care about them, that there’s something more important out there.

Now, of course, we have to know our own situations. On the whole, asking someone to marry you via text is almost empty of emotion, but there might be reasons to do so. Similarly, you might post someone else’s story when it’s appropriate, say when they ask you to do so. On the whole, though, these are pretty good guidelines for smartphone use. I know I will remember them. Will you?

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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