Cell phones are everywhere, especially now that they are like mini-computers and can do quite a bit of just about everything. With the explosion of the Personal Digital Assistance (PDA) based phones over the past six years since the original Iphone came on the market, once common based courtesies that dealt with phone communication are now rapidly disappearing. Years ago when cell phones didn’t exist, there was an unwritten form of this type of etiquette which sadly will be extinct soon it seems.
As a kid, the only phone my family had were the ones in my kitchen and my parent’s bedroom. Connected to the one in the kitchen was an answering machine that had a small cassette tape in it which could record up to a minute or two of a message. Nine times out of ten when someone called anyone in my family back then, they left a recorded message, unless of course it was a marketing call. And usually within less than 24 hours, we always called the people back who left a message on that machine. As for outside the home back then, such as in the movie theater, the only talking going on was between people, and that was often hushed very quickly. At restaurants, conversations occurred between those dining or sometimes people just ate in silence with each other while they enjoyed their food. On public transportation, people sparked up discussions with random strangers all the time or shared a newspaper with someone around them. In waiting rooms at various doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other businesses, people either read magazines, sat quietly in silence, or chatted lightly with others around them. And as for driving a car, the only thing ever in anyone’s hands as they drove back then was possibly some food, a shaver, or makeup. Sadly, all of this is changing for the worse now with so many people having cell phones that can do so much.
The first thing I’ve noticed that is changing for the worse is that I get a lot of phone calls on my cell phone where people don’t leave me messages. I see a phone number that remains on my “missed call” log but no physical message is left behind. To most of the friends and acquaintances that I know these days who have cell phones, their idea of leaving a message is that “missed call” text that appears on my phone. Unfortunately, as most people know, cell phones are not perfect technology and there are times we get in random dead zones where phone calls may appear to be ringing on the caller’s end but they’re doing nothing but remaining silent on the receiving end. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve missed important phone calls because of this.
The second thing I’ve noticed that is changing for the worse is the lack of getting returned phone calls from those I’ve left messages for. With cell phones being used all the time now, people see that I’ve called and left a message but they either don’t even listen to it and give themselves a mental reminder to call me back at some other point, or they attempt to send me a text message to let me know that they’ll call me later but never do so. With how busy people are becoming these days, and the amount of time people are using their cell phones, unless one saves the message as a reminder to call or calls back immediately, it’s rare they ever remember to call at all. And as for texting me, I don’t even have that active on my phone so unless one has an Iphone, where they can send me an “iMessage”, their words are sent out into dead air so I never even know that they were making an attempt to get back to me.
The third thing I’ve noticed that is changing for the worse deals with all those public places I mentioned earlier. At the movie theaters, people are using their cell phones to text or be on the internet during the films and each time they do, it acts as a bright flashlight that distracts all the viewers. At restaurants, I’ve seen couples eating their food with one hand and holding their cell phones with the other, all the while avoiding any real conversation with each other. On public transportation, no one really seems to be talking to each other anymore as everyone has their headphones plugged into their cell phones where they listen to music, play a game, or do something else with it. And as for those waiting rooms, many of those magazines have disappeared and the majority of people now spend their time waiting by talking on their phones very loudly to others or texting constantly with a repeated noise each time a new message comes in.
The fourth thing I’ve noticed that is changing for the worse with this explosion of cell phone usage is the worst of them all and it deals with the texting and driving at the same time. It is now estimated that close to 1.6 million accidents are occurring each year now because of this. And it’s also known that the driving behavior when one is doing this is even worse than when one is drinking and driving. More and more deaths are happening now each year because of this too.
While cell phones have made life much easier as compared to those days when the only way to make a call was at home, phone etiquette is rapidly growing worse and worse because of them. In some cases, it’s even jeopardizing and taking people’s lives from this Earth as well. It would be nice if people could go back to the time when phones weren’t so important but alas, I guess we all are having to grow with the technology. Regardless, I just hope one day soon that people will begin to place their cell phone usage second to having better phone etiquette like it once was many years ago…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson