We have such a selfish definition of rudeness today. With no true guidelines available for “tech etiquette”, it seems to be based on personal opinion.
For example, my friend interrupted our one-on-one conversation to answer a cell phone call. How rude! Of course, it was her own daughter with a question about curfew, but still. Then, my own mother was not available on her cell phone when I called her. I had to leave a message in her voicemail. How rude! Never mind she might have been involved in a one-on-one conversation. She may have simply had made the choice not to answer the call from her own daughter. How rude! Shutting off your phone is the new absolute no-no. Why even have a phone if you shut it off?
It’s a paradox– This changing definition of rudeness that fluctuates based on our personal circumstances. Shouldn’t I have the personal freedom to talk on my cell phone anywhere if I have signal? What if I am in a “quiet car” on an Amtrak train to Portland? One woman was recently escorted off a train for just such an offense. Of course, it was a 16 hour conversation. Apparently it takes 16 hours before such rudeness is addressed by actual action. How rude — or perhaps authorities actually infringed upon her first amendment rights. What if she was talking to her mother? What if they were funeral arrangements or some other personal family tragedy? What if she was a therapist talking down a suicidal jumper off a ledge? Who gets to decide? Is our next step litigation? Remember the “Coffee is Hot” warnings that seemed a little — well — obvious?
The movie screen asks us to turn off our cell phones, but there are no consequences. It’s all situational, isn’t it? What if your 12 year old son is staying at home by himself for the first time? You can’t just shut off your cell phone at the movies. It’s the responsible parent who has to climb over fellow movie goers while telling the son that, “No, you can’t have a friend over, and yes, you can make microwave popcorn.” What if he heard a funny noise and just needed to talk to Mom? What if the house is actually on fire? What if you were the climbed over movie-goer? Can you ask for free tickets as you missed that crucial moment in the movie?
We have all been irritated when the person we want to speak to is not available. We seem to no longer have the patience to wait for a return call. We hear, “Why didn’t you answer your cell?” or “I have to call him twice in a row so he knows it’s a real emergency.” How rude!
True selfishness is subjective and therein lies the problem. Technology has provided us with a whole new gambit of possibilities for rudeness. Not to mention the new opportunity to teach “tech etiquette” to my children. While “No, you may not read my facebook over my shoulder” seems obvious, there is that fine line as to “No, you may not call mom and dad at the movie unless it’s a real emergency.” As there are no standards available, we each must make our own decisions based on our own circumstances of the moment. This leads to many instances of “How rude” judgements by us all. We define “rudeness” by our own standards. What will our future be like? Oh, sorry, I have to take this call. It’s my mom.
Other work by this contributor:
Wired to Multi-Task
Heaven is For Real–Book Review
Pornography, Now Available at Your Local Library