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Cellphone etiquette: Contradiction in terms?

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Greg Peck
March 11, 2013

Have you ever been talking with a friend, relative or coworker when the other person stopped to answer a cellphone call or check an incoming text message?

I have with all three—repeatedly. (Maybe I’m just a boring conversationalist.)

I know I’ve discussed this issue in my blog previously, but the topic has come up many times in recent days.

Last week, the subject arose on “Your Talk Show” on WCLO. On Thursday, we ran a letter from a writer who suggested “the manners and mores of our civilization have undergone a vast and ugly transformation due to ubiquitous and barbaric cellphone usage.”

On Saturday night, my wife and I enjoyed the River Cities Jazz concert at the Janesville Performing Arts Center, but not before Tom Carlson of Janesville Presents! reminded the audience of “CPR”—turn off all cellphones, pagers and recording devices.

He shouldn’t have to remind people, but I’m glad he does. Too often, someone’s cellphone rings during church services I attend. I’d like to see revival of an opening reminder there, too. I always keep my little TracFone on vibrate—I’m not so self-important that I need to interrupt a conversation, show or otherwise solemn service by answering my phone.

In Sunday’s Gazette, the “Annie’s Mailbox” advice columnists had a letter from a man who attended a funeral in which someone’s cellphone rang. Not only did the woman answer it and talk during the service, but she did so a second time!

Coincidentally, a story on the back of that section discussed obsessive compulsions related to cellphones and other electronic gadgetry. The story by the Chicago Tribune’s Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz included 14 exercises to help you practice “phone restraint.”

One of my favorite exercises in that list would be to play “phone stack” when dining with others. Everyone puts their phones on the table, face down, stacked one on top of the other. The first person to grab his/her phone picks up the meal tab.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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