Mobile etiquette

I realise that social rules applying to the public use of mobile phones are slowly evolving; yet I believe that there are a still few aspects of such use that need sorting out sooner rather than later.

Trains

We’ve all heard the guy (or gal?) on the train conducting his business at mega dB and driving everyone to distraction; he needs sorting out the soonest.

I think that some people just go into a bubble when their phone rings, a bubble that excludes everyone and everything around them, something they would probably never do on any other occasion.  I once heard a former boss of mine conduct job contract negotiations on her mobile, to the rapt attention of everyone in the carriage.

Nevertheless, I have also begun to notice that some mobile phone users now move out of the main carriage to make their calls. Also, (and I count myself in both of these groups) I notice that some call recipients quietly move to the doorway nowadays, before continuing their conversation. I’ve also noted increased use of the simple I’m on a train, can I call you back? I suppose that’s progress.

Many of these calls are essential – I realise and concur with that. I’ve very often told prospective customers and clients to call me while I’m on the train, because a) the time I’m on the train suits them and b) because when I get to my destination I’ll be doing something else and the phone will be off*. However, like many others I now take or make those calls away from fellow passengers. It’s not that the call is particularly sensitive or secret, it’s mainly because I (we?) realise that it’s an annoyance to other passengers.

So we just need to convince ‘that guy’!

Restaurants

How many of us use our mobile phones to photograph things as we go about our daily business? I do!

I also photograph attractive dishes when eating out no matter whether it’s a £75 per head jobbie or just a particularly attractive sandwich I’ve bought for £1.99. I may even have made the food myself! I did once ask myself: ‘does this annoy fellow diners?’ and at one time, it probably did, but I think it’s less annoying and more prevalent now than it was a few years ago. Imagine all of the different groups sat along a Wagamama table taking mobile shots of their food as it arrives. I’ve seen it happen.

But what about those folks who insist on leaving their phone turned on in the restaurant, or in a meeting [see below], or in the cinema? What sort of selfishness does that display? After all it doesn’t take much effort (or thought) to switch over to silent-mode.

We all make mistakes, but 99 times out of a hundred, *I will turn my phone to silent or ‘off’ depending on the circumstance. I don’t want to disturb my fellow diners, or colleagues in a meeting by interrupting proceedings and I certainly don’t want disturbing in the cinema.

Talking about business meetings: In her book “Watching the English, The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour”, Kate Fox discusses the issue and suggests that

There are [..] as yet no agreed rules of etiquette on the use of mobile phones during business meetings.” page 85.

Will more people start turning off/silent from now on?

Driving

Surely this is the most annoying thing that people do with their mobile phones? Talking on the phone whilst driving is both dangerous and illegal. I used to do it – I don’t anymore.

Let me clarify that:

I use a hands free kit when driving but when possible will pull over if I receive a call because I know it can be distracting. I’ve seen so many people holding their phones to their ear whilst driving that it drives (sorry) me to distraction. These people are no longer fully aware of what’s going on around them – I’ve seen drivers drift over to the wrong side of the road, or slow down almost to a stop (in moving traffic) and as I pass their car, a closer look sees them ‘on the phone’.

How long will it be before we all adhere to mutually accepted social rules that define mobile phone use in practice?
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[Texting in various circumstances is another subject, one I will leave for the moment.]
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Maslow v Internet … cont.

Continuing the theme I started back in June of comparing Maslow’s (1954 + 1970) hierarchy of human needs against our current 21st century needs I thought that I’d record our week-2 experiences in France. [Other notes on our holiday being here]

We’d not done too bad in Sancerre during week one, with a modicum of slow WiFi being available in the apartment, week two in St. Gengoux le National was however, considerably different.

Back in June, when we’d visited Spain with my brother and Debbie, his girlfriend, we’d had no internet access whatever and I detailed the sort of things we missed at that time. On July 1st however, T-Mobile our ‘mobile’ provider introduced a scheme where we could buy limited amounts of connectivity – so our visit to France could easily be covered by buying into that.

£2.50 per 10meg or £10 per 50meg didn’t seem a bad price for being able to access emails etc. while on the move abroad. So I bought a £2.50 package to see how far it would go. I have to admit that I pushed that first package hard and it lasted about 24 hours! My fault (on purpose) I suppose because I posted several picture to Instagram. I don’t suppose the seven pictures I uploaded were too bad @ around 30p each. The next package I bought, used almost exclusively for emails (I still had some ‘work‘ to do while on holiday) lasted for over a week. Sharon’s packages were similarly long lasting. However

Once we arrived at our gite in Burgundy we found that even T-Mobile’s cost effective package would be no use. In the house itself we had no connectivity whatsoever, except late at night a cloud of ‘E’ floated in and out at whim! ‘E’ = EDGE.

I’m not sure that EDGE ever caught on at home, I barely noticed the difference between it and GPRS and once you’ve experienced 3G (or more especially, super-fast broadband via WiFi) you  find it grindingly slow. Yet the entire region only had EDGE access, even walking up the road meant a tiresome wait for downloading emails (i.e. 2-3 minutes rather than fairly instant). Finding ‘stuff’ on the Internet was similarly slow – we had to go for a drive, to find some 3G so that Sharon could research cures for a small medical problem.

Which is where we come right back to Maslow. Both lower levels (safety and physiological) are different in the 21st Century to what they were 50+ years ago. We no longer rely on the doctor to tell us everything; we also look it up on the Internet. I wanted to express my love (mid-level) by taking us on a TGV trip to Paris but couldn’t access the site! Most of the simple ‘online’ things we now take for granted were not avaialble to us.

Now, I realise that connectivity is not something everyone want when they go on holiday, but an ever increasing number of us do. 

Digital Traveller

I’ve just spent a pleasant weekend away in Ford, near Leek, Staffordshire with family (Sharon’s). We had great weather in great countryside but with no connectivity whatsoever.

i.e. No Internet connection and no phone connection: With all the consequent ‘no’s: no text, no emails, no checking crossword answers on Google, no checking facts for any of my blogs (e.g. Food blog; Saturday blog; Blogger blog amongst irregular others), no researching #SugSnips. It was bliss. Although, that’s quite glib, it WAS bliss, but for how long could I (we) have managed?

I’m writing my notes for this on the Sunday; we got here on Friday and we’ll return home tomorrow – and for me, that’s quite long enough thank you. I’ve managed to turn myself into an information junkie. I always feel that there is always too much information ‘noise’ out there, but when I want to know something – it’s the Internet I turn to. When I want to contact someone, it’s their mobile phone or their email I use – I rarely pick up the land-line ‘for chat’.

That’s me and that’s my problem (and to a lesser extent Sharon’s). But what about the others?

Two sisters in law say they are quite okay without any of the connectivity I crave and with Joanne, that’s more than likely true as she’s not a texter and rarely has her mobile phone with her – but she does use the Internet well for research. And she’s a big time Kindle user. Rosie on the other hand, despite her joking derision of my ‘loss’, has greatly missed her ‘text’ connectivity, having to make several walks up the field behind our cottage to get the sliver of connectivity she needed to keep in touch with her extended family. Unlike me, neither of them ‘need’ connectivity for their work.

We are all of us (society in general) digitally connected, yet we all have different communication needs. From those that have my all-encompassing need to access to the Internet 24/7, through Joanne’s need to have people available on the end of a land-line, to Rosie’s preference to letter writing (with pen and paper).

But we cannot be a completely digital society without complete digital coverage. So, come on service providers – you must do better.