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What is Cell Phone Etiquette?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cell phones have become an unavoidable part of modern life for many people, but their presence in so many places can lead to situations in which users are inconsiderate of others. Just as general rules of etiquette vary among cultures, so do rules of cell phone etiquette. Still, some basic principles cross cultural norms — common sense and courtesy are the cornerstones of polite cell phone use. Respecting public and personal space, maintaining privacy, and not disturbing others are some general principles a person should keep in mind when using a mobile phone.

Public vs. Private Use

Cell phone etiquette is usually at its most important in public spaces, where one loud talker can disturb a large number of people. How a person uses his or her phone in more private situations matters too, however, to those who are concerned with being considerate. Many people find it rude when someone takes a cell phone call on a date or during a private social engagement with others. Along the same lines, it's usually thought to be inconsiderate to take a call in the middle of a conversation; if the caller were there in person, he or she would likely wait to politely interrupt at a more appropriate time. When in a small group or one-on-one situation, it's best for someone receiving the call to not pick up unless it's an emergency.

Focus on the Situation, Not the Call

Public settings such as restaurants, waiting rooms, and subways are usually bad places for casual cell phone conversations. Unless the user is expecting an important call, it would be best to put the ringer on vibrate or silent mode and let any calls that do not need to be answered immediately go to voice mail. This is not only more considerate to other people in the public space, but it also helps the caller maintain his or her privacy by not divulging personal information in public.

It is also generally considered poor cell phone etiquette to stay on the phone when dealing with cashiers or customer service people. If using the phone in a supermarket or other store, the person should hang up before going to the checkout lane. In a casual restaurant, it's usually considered impolite to both the counter staff and the person on the other end of the line to stop in the middle of a conversation to place an order.

Although cars are usually considered private spaces, taking a call while driving is usually not a good idea. A number of jurisdictions ban cell phone use while driving unless a hands-free system is used. Even when a driver does not have to physically hold the phone, however, studies suggest that drivers who talk while they drive tend to focus less on the road and other cars and more on the conversation. Most calls can wait, but if one can't, it is safer for drivers to pull over before answering.

Important Phone Calls that Can't Wait

If the cell phone user thinks a call might be important, he or she should try to step outside or find a secluded area to take or return a call. For urgent calls that cannot be missed, polite cell phone users should try to keep their voices low and the conversations brief. If the call interrupts a conversation, it's best for the person to apologize before stepping away to answer.

Cell phones typically have sensitive microphones that can pick up a soft voice while blocking out ambient noise, so yelling into a cell phone is usually not necessary. When people are nearby, polite cell phone users try to keep their voices low and the tone unemotional and even. Arguing or airing dirty laundry in public is almost universally considered to be poor cell phone etiquette.

Maintaining a distance of at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the nearest person when talking on a cell phone is usually a good idea. No matter how quiet the conversation, if a person is standing too close to others, it may force them to overhear what is being said. If it's necessary for a person to speak loudly to be heard by the person he or she is speaking to due to a noisy location, it's probably not a good place to be taking the call.

Places Where the Phone Should Always Be Turned Off

In almost all cases, phones should be turned off in movie theaters, playhouses, observatories, or any other public place where an audience's attention is focused on a performance or event. A ringing phone or a conversation can be very disturbing to other audience members, who have often paid money for the experience. In some cases, performances have been stopped in progress as the performers wait for an audience member to leave or silence his or her phone.

Phones should be turned off anywhere in which silence is important and disruptions should be kept to an absolute minimum. This includes courthouses, libraries, places of worship, doctor's offices, weddings, and funerals, where a ringing phone could indicate a lack of respect. It's also best to turn off a phone during a job interview, as it can suggest that the person being interviewed is more concerned with personal issues than the job.


Loud and distinctive ringtones are good for catching the phone owner's attention, but they can be a major distraction to other patrons in a restaurant or theater. If a phone must be left on in a public space, the owner should put the ringer on silent or vibrate whenever possible to create the least disturbance. Turning the volume down or even changing the ringtone to one that is more subtle — such as the sound of bells ringing rather than the latest pop song — may also cause less of an interruption.

Texting and Surfing the Web

Using a smartphone to text someone or look something up online is usually appropriate in public spaces, as long as doing so does not disturb others. Smartphones often have very bright screens, and can even be used as flashlights in some cases, so using them in a dark environment like a movie theater can be very distracting. Watching videos or playing music without headphones is also likely to be a disruption in any public space, and should be avoided. Many smartphones also include games, which should only be played in public if they do not include loud sound effects or are likely to result in the player making a lot of physical movements or vocal reactions.

Just like taking a phone call in the middle of a conversation would likely be considered impolite, focusing on the phone's screen to check sports scores or email while talking to others is usually bad cell phone etiquette. If an email or text must be responded to, the cell phone user should apologize and excuse himself to do so privately. Texting or surfing the Internet should never be done while driving.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon995037 — On Mar 26, 2016

You have to give the people in line at the stores who are talking on the phone and hushing the cashier. My husband thinks its all right to go to a restaurant and when his sister or someone calls, it's talk time. He says I'm wrong about phone etiquette in public. He lives by his rules, not proper society's. People just don't care any more. It's an all about me world.

By anon992093 — On Aug 12, 2015

My friend talks to me and secretly plays video games. I can hear the dang bullets being shot and her lack of immediate response to the end of a sentence is a dead on clue. I shouldn't have to wait and then ask "Are you there?".

"Oh yeah, I was just thinking." It's obvious that she thinks she can multi task. Not! I've asked if she's playing but she always gets offended like it's an insult to insinuate she would do that. I like her but, what should I do?

By anon990079 — On Apr 05, 2015

The entire world is turning into lifeless cellphone zombies who walk around (and drive) in a cloud and have no clue about the world around them. There used to be a day when you could talk to a young person face to face. Now virtually all of them respond with a simple "Huh?"

By anon946135 — On Apr 17, 2014

I feel totally shot down right now, because a woman I like wouldn't say hello this morning, as we crossed the parking lot together. Sure, she was on her phone -- but a nod or a wave wouldn't have cost anything! It's like everyone is walking around in these imaginary boxes, and they can't see people on the outside.

By anon939153 — On Mar 12, 2014

My own mother just completely disengaged from an actual conversation between us when someone called her. I was actually trying to have a meaningful conversation about health. So the caller states that she is just returning a call by my mom from a month ago! Wow, how completely dehumanizing. I felt like absolute trash.

This person is just calling my mom back after 30 days and I can't have the time of day to talk to my own mother. There is something very wrong with the society that we live in today. I wonder what people would do without their precious little distracting devices.

By anon317778 — On Feb 04, 2013

As a teacher I find it especially annoying when some a) answers the phone after I have told them not to, b) excuses him/herself to "use the washroom" when I know they want to use the phone c) finishes classwork then pull out phones to play games because they have "finished today's work." If my students spent as much time on their studies as they did on their phones, I'd have geniuses graduating!

By anon290340 — On Sep 09, 2012

Thanks everyone for posting. It has confirmed for me what I have been saying all along. Now I can tell my husband that Google said I was right! My family and I have been having heated discussions about this. While I like the idea of being able to contact my loved ones whenever I need to and vice-versa, There has to be a good way to signal when it is an actual emergency. I am seriously frustrated that just having a cell phone seems to mean that my brain is on constant loan to them whenever they have a question.

For instance, "Where's the peanut butter?" when I go for a bike ride. Or "It's my turn on the X-Box " when I am at the doctor's office. Then there's my personal favorite, the infamous, "When are you coming home, I'm hungry?" right after I have arrived the grocery store to buy food so that I can make them dinner! How is a person supposed to focus and hurry when people are calling incessantly! Ugh! I can't get a thing done if people don't give me a moment's peace.

Now I am a mother of five and I get it that is an irreplaceable tool for the safety of my children, but it also takes away from my time with them as well. It used to be that I talked to them in the car more before we got cell phones. I miss that.

Here are some perfectly good reasons not to answer your phone.

1. Raw meat juice on your hands (self explanatory).

2. Your toddler just fell and is bleeding (hopefully not because you were to distracted by a phone call to notice he had scaled a five-foot wall).

3.While swimming at the beach. (duh).

4.You are right in the middle of the birds and bees talk with your 15 year old. (Takes precedence, I would say).

5. You are in the shower ( How dare you be unreachable).

6. You are reading to your child. (Instead of letting them play with your iPhone).

7. You are in the woods far from any tower reception (Yay).

Live people and safety come first, so please, when I get some time to respond to my voice mails and I call you back, do not give me the "I called you five times speech," so I can save the, “So sorry I have a real life speech.”

By anon289993 — On Sep 06, 2012

People who interact with their phones in social settings are just totally rude. There's a name for it now called 'Phubbing', which means phone snubbing. I found an interesting website about it. There's a cool intervention letter you can send to your phubbing friends.

By anon266292 — On May 05, 2012

Come to Nigeria and see extremely foolish so-called VIPs yakking and guffawing on the cellphone even at very serious public ceremonies, including church services. How about 'technology betraying the beasts among us'?

By anon261184 — On Apr 14, 2012

@ anon246931 -- Post 59: The problem is that a lot of cell phone users think they have to should into their phone so the person at the other end can hear. They act like they're using tin cans attached by string.

By anon261183 — On Apr 14, 2012

Just because someone walking down the street talking to themselves has a blue-tooth earpiece, doesn't mean they're not just -- you know -- talking to themselves.

By anon261182 — On Apr 14, 2012

I was on a Greyhound bus from Chicago to Minneapolis. We picked up passengers in Milwaukee at 1 a.m. Some guy got on, sat in the seat behind me, and started yakking on his cell phone. The conversation consisted of important topics like "Yeah, it's dark here too."

After 30 minutes, I asked him twice to stop talking so I could sleep. Then he started telling his conversation partner about the crazy guy who wanted him to shut up.

I finally found a seat in the back of the bus and slept. As we were pulling into the bus station in Minneapolis, I sat next to him and made sure we were the last people to leave the bus. Petty, I know, but I felt better.

By anon258958 — On Apr 04, 2012

That "hello" from someone, only to find out they are talking to a cell phone, has caught me off guard, too. I don't mind so much the yakkers in the grocery store if they are at a quiet conversational level. It's not that different from two people in person talking about product.

But at my local gym, the girls behind the reception desk are often texting away on their phones when I come in. I usually get a "hello" but they barely look up and keep "working" on their phones. Then the guy trainers at the desk are always checking sports sites on the computers.

I KNOW that maybe there is downtime when you're at a reception desk, and I guess in the past (in movies, esp) the receptionist was reading a book or doing their nails or something, but I feel like I'm bothering them if I have a question. I've actually stood and waited for them to notice me, and rather enjoyed their embarrassment when they realize I've been standing there while they've been texting "on the clock".

And don't get me started about stock people in grocery stores with headphones on. I never feel like I could ask them for help finding a product.

By anon249437 — On Feb 20, 2012

Just had a nasty run-in with a loudmouthed woman who yapped incessantly on her cell phone at Starbucks. She told the whole world about the problems she was having with her roommate, her neurotic friends, etc. I asked her to keep her voice down but to no avail. She got lots of dirty looks from the other patrons but she didn't care. Starbucks (and like institutions) should install phone jammers.

By anon246931 — On Feb 12, 2012

How, I beg of you, how is holding a phone conversation in public any different than holding a face-to-face conversation in public? I'm sorry but the reasoning that you're being "forced" to listen to others conversations is so whiny. People speak in public. You overhear all kinds of things, but somehow it's not okay if the person has a phone at their ear while they do it?

For example, the first posted comment on here mentions people saying they can't decide what to purchase at a grocery store. Oh my, stop the presses. What a travesty. You walked by someone and heard them discussing cans of produce on their phone. How rude of them. How inconvenient for you. But it's okay if they are holding this conversation with someone in real live flesh, right? Then it's possible to ignore. Hmm..

I agree that phones should be put away as much as possible when you're at dinner or visiting with someone. But when I'm traveling solo and I'm on an elevator, bus, grocery store, or hallway surrounded by strangers, I reserve the right to carry mundane and inoffensive conversations ("Hi, how are you?" "What beans should I buy?") via cell phone.

People talk. People talk to other people. Ninety percent of them aren't talking to you; they're talking to the person they're standing next to or the person on the other end of the phone. Get over it, everybody!

By amypollick — On Jan 23, 2012

What gets my goat: If I kept a customer waiting while I yakked on the phone, he or she would have a perfect right to complain to my boss about my lack of courteous customer service.

These same people feel it's perfectly OK, however, to come to my desk and expect immediate assistance from me while they're still chattering on their phones, and don't have time to answer any questions I might have about what they need; they're too busy blathering. Their time is valuable. Apparently, mine is not. Grrr.

By anon242293 — On Jan 23, 2012

While talking about phone usage with a friend, I was told of an incident during a lovemaking session when the partner stopped mid 'action' to answer and reply to a text. Needless to say, the opposite partner got up, picked up the mobile and threw it out of the window and left.

Though my biggest beef with phone users are the ones who walk along texting and not bothering to look where they are going, either walking into you and then grunting at you as if it is your fault, or the ones who walk out into traffic not looking where they are going.

Personally, I feel like grabbing their phones and with a swift blow from a mallet, inserting it pretty high into their rectum, preferably sideways.

By amypollick — On Dec 04, 2011

@anon233143: This may be the way the sales associate was trained. This store may tell its associates the phones must be answered.

However, the appropriate way to handle this (and I work with people every day) is to say to the caller, "I have a customer. Please hold for one moment. Thank you." Then you put the caller on hold and complete the sale in progress, then deal with the customer on the phone. If there's a line at the register, you get the request, the customer's name and number, and when the register line clears out, you find the answer to the question and call the customer back.

That's how it's done when your associates are properly trained in service etiquette, both on the phone and in personal sales.

By anon233143 — On Dec 04, 2011

You've waited and waited in a department store. It's a long queue, finally you get service, and you are just about to conclude the sale when the customer enquiry phone starts ringing. The sales assistant, for some reason, seems to think that a call takes precedence over the customer in front of her, and so she stops what she's doing and takes that important call, about the availability of a kettle or something! Why do they get priority?

By anon219517 — On Oct 03, 2011

I don't know about the texting while driving because some of the new phones have talk and text.

By anon209803 — On Aug 28, 2011

I went to the cinema with my cousin and sister and they were both using their phones during the trailers. Of course, the movie hasn't begun so I guess it's OK. Then the movie starts and my cousin is still using it. I tell my sister to tell him to turn it off. Down in front I saw a mobile screen waving around, then 10 minutes later, on the other side, I saw another one, then one to my left. Then my sister periodically checks her phone during the movie to see what time it is. Then my cousin checks his phone to see if anyone has texted him. Why can people not just turn off their phones during a movie? Will the world around them crumble to dust if they are not engaging their phones for two hours?

After the movie we went to a bar and found a table. We got some drinks then sat down. Both my sister and cousin take out their phones and begin tapping away, texting various people as I sit staring into space drinking my drink. I really say loud enough for both of them to hear, "Whatever happened to the art of conversation? Phones are more important these days," and immediately, both get aggressive, telling me who they are texting. OK, so you are texting a friend and ignoring me then? Hello? I'm sitting right here and reading and typing words into a mobile phone is more important?

Before the phones, me and my cousin would sit and play a video game together for a few hours having a good time laughing and taking turns. Now when he plays, the game is paused every five minutes when his phone beeps signalling him to pick it up and type some rubbish to someone as I stare at the paused video game in silence.

Some phone users are pig ignorant and just plain sad. I dream of the day when all cell towers malfunction and phones stop working all over the world. finally we will have to reconnect to the people we are with instead of the people on the end of a phone.

By anon181999 — On May 31, 2011

I so agree with crazycell - post 22. I had a peaceful nature walk and picnic with a male friend and we were on the one hour drive home. I was driving and was forced to listen to his one sided conversation where the person was acting like a damsel in distress, telling of her woes with her husband, and finally asking for a loan to buy a Co-op that was clearly out of her reach.

He tried to pull me into the conversation but I would not as I felt it was an intrusion. This lasted for 20 minutess because she even had him on hold at one point! My response was to turn up my radio and that got his attention! He acted like I was the rude one as he now could not hear the damsel.

I said I did not want to be part of someone's drama and not that I am uncaring but it could have waited until he was alone. He was defensive about her DV situation and I said that once he found out that it was not such a dire emergency, he should have ended the call. Was I wrong?

By anon176658 — On May 16, 2011

Does anybody has anything to say about a mother in law, in love with her phone visiting for a week?

Everybody knows how 'delicate' that relationship can be. On top of everything, her long conversations on the phone are her tax guy, her travel agent, her friend. It's unbelievable. I'm sitting in my couch enjoying rare moments of quiet. (I have a 2 and a 4 year old). If she only knew how much I appreciate quiet time. Am I too difficult?

By anon169786 — On Apr 22, 2011

I work for Wal-Mart as a cashier. Since my employer does not permit me to correct the ill behavior of the general public while on their cell phones in my line, I simply make an error on their bill.

If they are not paying attention it is likely they won't even notice. If they should notice if addressed by management I would simply claim the matter was an honest error. Unless you are dealing with an emergency, get off the phone in my line.

By anon160862 — On Mar 17, 2011

What do you think of my date who claimed to have become traumatized and devastated because I did not respond immediately to two missed calls she placed to me over a 60 second period, even though I did respond to her after a couple of minutes via text message.

By anon160851 — On Mar 17, 2011

What do you think of woman who, when you take her on a date to a restaurant, goes to the rest room, remains in there an inordinate amount of time, and then places repeated and calls to me and wishes to engage me in unnecessary conversations as I sit waiting at the table. Sometimes she calls to advise me that she is coming out. What is up with this?

By anon160848 — On Mar 17, 2011

What do you think of a person who calls and leaves 10, 20 or 30 messages to my number over a very short time span of 15, 30 or 60 minutes and who then tries to make a big deal out of how many calls they placed to me to which I did not respond? I consider such behavior inappropriate and consider such call blitzing as a single call, not 10, 20 or 30.

By anon159718 — On Mar 13, 2011

Can a person do their laundry at a laundromat anymore without some hammerhead yakking on their cell phone? This drives me insane. I can't walk away because it takes time to fold! I don't care about your life problems. Everyone has a tale of woe! Just let me do my laundry in peace.

By anon145383 — On Jan 23, 2011

What really bugs me is people breaking up over the phone, like on time me and my friend were working on our project at the library, and this big busty lady comes in yapping away on her cell phone. And she was so loud we could hear her from the other side of the library!

All we heard was her screaming and going, "Why you breakin' up with me? I thought we had something!"

and it's like... Lady, shut up! Nobody wants to hear you break up in the middle of the library!

It's sad how little cell phone etiquette people have.

By anon144400 — On Jan 19, 2011

I agree with many of the above statements. What galls me and is a relationship breaker, is when the man answers the phone, knowing full well that this person is going to ask him for a favor, a ride, etc. It is not an emergency, and I feel offended and an idiot, especially in a restaurant. He is not a keeper.

By anon141182 — On Jan 09, 2011

There is a law out now about people not texting on the phone while driving in their car. i think that this is a good law because a lot of people get killed on the road trying to text a message to someone.

By anon132564 — On Dec 07, 2010

Good friend and I are watching a movie last night - a relaxing evening with the christmas tree lights on.

A quarter way through, he pulls out the cell to check football scores. Cell phones were bad enough but now you can check everything from email to facebook to ball scores anytime, anywhere.

Where does it stop? It truly made me feel like I was second on his list. Perhaps he was bored with the movie? Honestly, I probably wouldn't have minded if it was during a commercial, or if he had even said "hey, i need to take a break for a minute so i can check a score." It's just rude. Put it away. Wherever you are you should be all there. There is a time for everything.

By anon131715 — On Dec 03, 2010

I agree with everyone posting on this thread. It's incredibly rude and obnoxious and even worse, people look at you like you're from Mars if you bring it up.

I also work in retail and it's very insulting to have to wait on customers that continue to yak on their phones while I'm expected to wait on them. I'm tempted to refuse customers until they are off their phones but since I'm just an employee and not the owner what can I do without getting fired?

As for myself I have a phone and I use it when needed but I'm always courteous of others. On buses and public places I text rather than call. If I'm with friends or a date then I have my phone put away, period.

What also gets me is people that constantly have to have the newest, latest and greatest phone with all the new bells and whistles. You have a phone that works - do you honestly need a new one that costs you another $200-300 bucks?

Sometimes I just get so disgusted with people and their screwed up priorities.

By anon131346 — On Dec 02, 2010

My girlfriend is very attached to her cell phone. She always has it out on the table during meals, and she frequently texts while we're out together. I feel disrespected and unimportant when this happens. I confronted her once, and she got angry, saying she has a right to use her phone whenever she wants. If she continues to do this, I will exercise my right to end the relationship.

By anon121373 — On Oct 24, 2010

I am still peeved about the straight up rudeness of a coworker. He came to visit me at work to just shoot the breeze. He sought me out, chatted a little and the whole time was playing an online game on his phone. Seriously!

What was the point of coming to have a conversation with a friend if you are going to be preoccupied playing a game? Personally, I felt insulted by the rude gesture. If it wasn't for the fact that I use my personal phone for business, I would prefer that they be banned at work.

The nonworking constant texter, gamer, slacker phone usage is running rampant.

By anon121084 — On Oct 23, 2010

I have this one friend of mine who is basically glued herself to her mobile phones. She is constantly on the phone whenever it rings, even though most of the calls are from her family. It made me so mad sometimes because whenever she is having lunch or dinner at the cafe or restaurant with me, she has to answer the calls and I will be left alone most of time at the table -- extremely rude!

The thing I do not understand is that she has to report every single detail of her life to her family! She lives a very sheltered life and when I commented on such things, she snapped at me and said I was not being understanding at all.

Nowadays if she ever asked me to go out I will simply say no because I don't enjoy her company anymore. What's the point of going out if I have to see her constantly answering the calls all the time and pretty much whatever time is left is barely enough for us to have a decent meal and good conservation with each other? It just ticks me off!

In my opinion, some people just do not know how to act properly sometimes, including when to answer your call or otherwise. They expect us to understand their circumstances but seriously I find it full of crap. It is just a matter of being reasonable and considerate to your company that you are spending your time with. That's all.

By anon110100 — On Sep 10, 2010

I hate it when my best friend calls me ahead of time to let me know that she is coming over and if I have coffee ready. So, I will make a fresh pot and get things ready so that we can enjoy our visit once she gets to my house.

And when she finally arrives her cell phone rings when she is walking up the sidewalk and it's one of her sons and she continues talking in a very loud voice and comes in.

She'll get her coffee and just sit and have a long, long conversation with him and when she finally gets off the phone she has to go and there goes our so-called visit out the window.

I understand that her sons live out of town (just two hours away) but, when you basically invite yourself for coffee, the cell phone should only be answered for an emergency and if it's not, let your kid know that you are visiting a friend and will call back. Ugh! I feel better now. Lol.

By anon100899 — On Aug 01, 2010

I was getting information to mail a package from my other half. Then her daughter got on the cell to complete the instructions. When she finished, she handed the phone back to her mother and said the following, "He wants to speak to you". Never mentioning my name but I was referred to as 'he'.

I thought this was disrespectful. But they on the other side thought is was perfectly OK but they knew it was me on the line. They think I am wrong and I have a problem. Who is right? Thank you.

By anon100866 — On Jul 31, 2010

I have a gripe about people who have to show their cell phone photos when they are in a group setting. It's as if they have to be the center of attention. I was out with three other people last week and two of the people were in the middle of a conversation, and the third person was not getting any attention so she quietly showed a phone photo to one of the people talking, thereby interrupting the conversation, albeit quietly. How rude!

By anon94173 — On Jul 07, 2010

A favorite of mine is when you're talking to someone and they pick up their cell phone. This should be a first come, first serve kind of thing. They can wait. I was talking first. Now in Michigan you get ticketed also if you text while driving. Probably safer.

By anon89458 — On Jun 10, 2010

Dear Post 25/ anon67858: Basic etiquette merits the minimal politeness of paying attention to the person with whom you are spending time--especially if it's for a special occasion or evening out together.

The kind of callous rudeness your wife demonstrated would essentially have been the same if she'd had her nose buried in a book the whole evening or if you had decided to read a magazine instead of talking to her.

Essentially, this comes down to putting someone else's comfort and pleasure over your own and if your wife can't see that, there are probably bigger things than just an enjoyable evening at stake here.

By anon83329 — On May 10, 2010

in response to post #27 -- that's ridiculous. it's never a good idea to be even more ignorant than the person who is bothering you.

By anon82688 — On May 06, 2010

RE: The public restroom. Who cares if the other person can hear you pee? I would think that would embarrass the person in the stall next to you. I would make as much noise as possible and flush frequently.

I also talk loudly when someone next to me is being obnoxious on their cell phone and beep my horn long and loud when someone on a cellphone isn't paying attention while driving. The only way to win this game is to be more obnoxious than they are.

By anon72321 — On Mar 22, 2010

My son's mom comes to the door to pick him up and she's chatting away to god knows who on her cell phone. She talks to me and the person on the phone intermittently, occasionally letting it be known to the person on the phone any issues we may be having at that exact time time.

Am I crazy or this totally rude and grandstanding?

By anon67858 — On Feb 27, 2010

My gripe/question is not about talking on the phone. It is about playing games on the phone while with another person, spouse, etc., while out for a fun evening.

Last night the wife and I went out for dinner and a concert. While waiting for our food to arrive I walked up to check on our order. When I got back the wife is playing Solitaire. (She just got a new iPhone and found out she can play Solitaire.) She says, "well you got up so I started playing." When the food was ready she stopped and we ate. Then, we went to a concert at a local venue. During the first acoustic act I look over and she is playing Solitaire again. I asked her if she was bored and she said no.

After about 10 minutes I asked her if she could at least turn off the sound effects on the game and she does, but continues to play. I then ask her nicely to stop playing and pay attention to the band. She finally lays down the phone and I thank her for doing so.

A little while later I come back with our drinks and she is back at it. I joked with her that Solitaire, by virtue of the name, is supposed to be played when you are alone, bored and have nothing else to do. She says she can enjoy the show and play solitaire too. She keeps on playing.

I reach over a couple times and touch the screen and mess up her cards just to get her attention. We both laugh or smile, but she does not stop playing, even after I repeatedly ask her to.

After awhile I just take my drink and walk out to the stage area and leave her to play solitaire alone. As the show is winding down, I go back to our table and get my coat and tell her we are leaving. We go out to the car and don't talk the whole way home.

This morning we "discuss" the matter. She thinks I am looking at it as a "you weren't paying enough attention to me" issue. I see it as rude and childish that she chose playing solitaire over enjoying a concert, even when she knew it was bothering me. So, who is right here?

By anon66382 — On Feb 19, 2010

Cell phone conversations are ubiquitous in today's world. I view them as a "necessary evil".

I am often in the library, at my university, and cell phone conversations are quite frequent, and annoying. Five minutes without a cell phone conversation is a rarity. The library workers do absolutely nothing about it, even when I complain about the 23 cell phone conversations within the last hour.

When people are arguing with boyfriends, or swearing, and yelling, I am often tempted to smack the phone out of their hand. Cell phone jammers are a gem, but sadly, they are illegal. I would not hesitate to use one in the library.

By anon65335 — On Feb 12, 2010

The cell phone people are the same idiots who insist that they carry everything they own onto a airplane and stuff it into the overhead compartments while talking on their cell phone! I have seen a lot of funny incidents while traveling. These are very important people (so they think).

By crazycell — On Feb 03, 2010

I agree completely with “phoenix56” about this unrelenting need for some of us to constantly talk on our cell phones in public. Personally, I think it's so rude and perhaps as you said, "If you are one of those, your need to be validated as a human being, or the desire to tell everyone one how important you are is bordering on psychosis and the person you need to talk to should be at the end of a couch, with a pad of paper." Bravo!

I have a friend who became quite enraged and confrontational with me when I revealed to him how vexing it was for me to listen to his constant and long one way cell phone conversations he has while in my company.

In the car, he has to have the radio off while he talks and I drive and it goes without saying that I cannot talk with him while he is on the phone. I have to listen to him drone on and on to what he calls "very important business calls related to his personal career" -- calls that are so important to him that he just cannot miss them or let them go into his voicemail and call them back later.

When we’re in a restaurant he has the phone "at the ready" so he can take calls. Today was the coup de grâce! He took me for a birthday lunch and though he was quite polite during the meal, as soon as we finished, the waitress said she heard that it was my birthday, so she and another colleague joined to sing me a special birthday song. Then, his cell phone rang and he walked off to talk and did not even join or watch during the well wishes by this friendly restaurant staff.

Then when we got in the car he was back on the phone again! I told him, I never knew that men talked on the phone so much (I was mistaken -- thinking that the need to constantly chat on a cell phone was a female thing) and that it was really getting on my nerves.

I continued telling him my feelings about his constant cell phone use while with me and in public places and that I really thought it was rude and disrespectful of the live human beings in front of you. He immediately took offense and defiantly said, "Well, from now on when I'm in the car with you I just won’t answer my phone" and eventually added that what I said was weird and he could not see why it would bother me since it would not bother him if I did the same.

I tried to tell him how it feels to listen to a one-way conversation of no interest to me personally, and if he had to listen to me in close quarters doing the same it would be annoying. No go!

After letting me know that I was basically crazy and trippin' he asked if we could drive somewhere else, so I told him I would rather he drop me off at home and that way he could converse with whomever he wanted and I would feel better not being trapped with him in the car with him any longer. Problem solved, right? No! It was obvious that he was very offended by what I said and took it as a personal affront to his phone etiquette, which in his opinion was totally understandable and correct.

Needless to say, I asked him if he could make arrangements to stay with another friend during his visit. Now, the problem is truly solved. Some people just can’t comprehend that they have taken this truly modern marvel that can literally save your life and twisted it into a useless toy that provides just another way to show how ignorant some people can be.

By anon56749 — On Dec 17, 2009

Though this is somewhat redundant (as it is a very clear example of rule no. 4) I feel that it needs to be explicitly stated (as it is something that I see all the time--and if you would add it to your list of non-private places in rule no. 1, I think that your list would be even more comprehensive): the inappropriateness of cell phone use in elevators. Thanks and happy holidays!

By anon55357 — On Dec 07, 2009

I agree with the things that are on this website and it is really helpful because i got hit by a person who was on their cell phone and told him to pay for my car damages. -Kofi

By patience1 — On Nov 19, 2009

My adult children and sibling and family in general, think I should answer my cell phone whenever it rings.

I do not carry my cell phone wherever I go, such as when I'm doing yard work, cleaning the house, etc. They feel I do not care about them. I do not have a house phone.

Mainly my adult children call because they want me to babysit. They get mad when I do not pick up the phone. But I do call them back as soon as I can. Before I got a cell phone people were more understanding of me not being available to answer the telephone. Any suggestions?

By anon49922 — On Oct 23, 2009

I work in a retail setting and have had to ask several people talking loudly on their cell phones while stepping up to my counter to step away. One time I couldn't even hear the comments of the customer I was trying to help when the offender approached the counter. I had to ask her to step away and she just went to the other side of my counter and I still had problems hearing the original customer. When someone walks up to an area of business while talking on their phone, the message they are sending me is that their call is a priority over getting assistance from me. I tell them I will help them as soon as they finish their call.

By anon47387 — On Oct 04, 2009

1. talking on cell phone while driving is a big no no. 2.Talking to somebody else while on cell phone is rude. 3.Talking on the cell phone while you are at the movies or on a date is disrespectful. 4.Common sense say if you are in class, a funeral, hospital, church etc. Turn your damn cell phone off! 5.If you have to take a call keep it short while you are in the middle of business.

By anon46474 — On Sep 25, 2009

I wish that cell phones would be turned off while exercising in the gym. Making or taking a call while on the treadmill is common, and when I mentioned the problem to the manager, he disagreed with me. I'm looking for a new fitness facility pronto.

By phoenix56 — On Aug 26, 2009

How white trash have we become? I agree cell phones are *wonderful*. I always feel safe, I can call a cab whenever I need to, or tell someone I will be late. I use my phone as an answering machine on the go. I never, *ever* take a personal phone call in public. If you are one of those, your need to be validated as a human being, or the desire to tell everyone one how important you are is bordering on psychosis and the person you need to talk to should be at the end of a couch, with a pad of paper. I don't care about your personal life, what you want for dinner, he said she said... blah, blah, blah. I suggest you hang up the phone, go home, clean up your trailer (metaphorically speaking) and find something worthwhile to spend your time on. Have you noticed even the poorest of the poor has a cell phone? What's up with that? I see people staring at their cell phone like God had parted the clouds and bequeathed them a gift! Sometimes they don't even know what to do with it! It's a tool! Driving and talking and texting -- don't even get me started. Now that cell phones have brought the IQ level of all of us down to "0" lets take time to re-group. Everyone has a cell phone Barney. You're not special. So put it away, let the nice voice mail take the call and when you have some time go to a quiet place, take down messages and return calls appropriately, okay?

By anon42341 — On Aug 20, 2009

It seems you neglected to include the public restroom in public places. You may think this is so obvious that it's not necessary. Sorry. I just had to ask and then demand the woman in the stall get off her cell phone as my peeing was a private thing I didn't wish to share with the person on the other end of her phone. OMG!

By anon31995 — On May 14, 2009

Texting is sometimes just as annoying; especially in business meetings. Is that really more important than what I'm saying?

By anon30726 — On Apr 23, 2009

What about when a call is dropped?

Always the person who dropped the call should make the call back. The Scovill Protocol (what this is called) is very clear because you don't know how long the dropper is going to be out of range (it could be short tunnel) or a long ride in an elevator.

Please stick to the Scovill Protocol - whoever dropped the call makes the call back. The droppee (is that a word?) waits.

And tell everyone so that we can clear it up. And don't worry about the case where you both drop the call, it's rare.

By anon18584 — On Sep 25, 2008

I think people who do allow an incoming phone call to interrupt the existing one are insensitive. Your comment about allowing the second call to go to voice mail is very on point! What happened to common courtesy? I suppose the ONLY exception is a dire emergency.

By anon16105 — On Jul 29, 2008

I've had that happen to me a couple times. I think the person's talking to me and they're on their phone. *sighs* I think the best way to be able to use the phone without being obnoxious is by texting! It saves money and is quick, convenient and private.

By anon4359 — On Oct 14, 2007

How 'bout the yackers in the grocery store that can't decide which can of beans to buy... and we all have to listen. Or the nice voice behind me in line saying "hello...." I turn around to respond in-kind and it's someone on their cell. ugh!!!

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