Apparently, plenty of self-important people out there still don’t know cell phone etiquette. My meetings at work are still interrutped by them. When “please turn off your phone” signs are clearly visible, I still hear phones ringing in quiet restaurants. Even after a theater shows one of those witty “Turn it off now!” trailers before a movie, some nitwit always manages to think that it doesn’t apply to him/her…at least, until the phone rings. Why is this still happening?
In the great American debate about cellphone etiquette, some of the early turf battles seem to be settled, with winners and losers falling into camps familiar from Western Civ classes. Movie theaters, funerals and libraries appear to have been carried by the cell Rousseauists, who believe the social contract forbids such things as shouting intimate details into a piece of plastic in a room full of strangers.
Most public transportation systems, on the other hand, appear to belong to the cell Hobbesians, who believe that since life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short, there’s no need to give the rider engrossed in her newspaper in the seat next to you a quiet commute. Restaurants constitute a middle ground, in a state of détente. Everyone knows it’s rude to use a cellphone at dinner, but civilized people do it anyway.
The workplace, though, remains unsettled territory. “This is the next area,” said Peggy Post, director of the Emily Post Institute and an author of “The Etiquette Advantage in Business.” Ms. Post, who often lectures business groups about cell use, spoke over a land line from her home office on the Florida Gulf Coast.
“We’re hearing more and more stories about cellphones in the workplace,” Ms. Post said, with no suggestion that any of those stories might be celebratory.
This is why I’m a huge fan of cellphone jammers (allowing for 911 calls, of course). Just why they’re still illegal in this country is a mystery!