An interesting topic for someone’s PhD thesis might be “As Mobile Technology Increases, Social Manners Decline”.

I write this somewhat tongue in cheek – but there is something for us to consider when we use our phones in public.

I have become increasingly aware over the past year that more and more people are concerned with what is happening on their phone than the real world around them.

Step into any café or restaurant at lunchtime and observe the patrons – you’d be hard pressed to find a table that did not have at least one person either talking on their phone, texting, or updating their facebook status.

Annoying mobile phone habitsWalk down any city street behind a couple as they casually walk, talk and text side by side, and block your progress – very frustrating when you are in a hurry.

Travel by public transport or in an elevator? How often do you only get to hear (regardless of whether you want to or not) half a conversation. And a loud conversation at that! My first mobile phone – tin cans connected by a piece of string – did not have us talking as loudly! I am so tempted to politely ask them to either talk softly, or put the other party on speaker so we can hear the complete story.

Then there is the music. I love listening to music. My music – not someone else’s choice – and not leaking out of their headphones – disturbing my attempts to block out the loud, half conversation from the guy next to me on the tram. If it’s that loud, it can’t be good for your ear drums – or mine! At least let me select the tracks.

Talking about “mobile phones” – it amuses me that some people still cannot talk whilst standing still – they must be under the impression that “mobile” means you have to pace up and down like the stereotypical expectant father in old movies.

Another area of decline is the use of filters. How often do we see on facebook that one of our online friends has just “checked in”, or told us they had pizza for dinner. My first reaction is  “so what”. My second reaction is annoyance at myself for even bothering to read such things. Unless you are involved in a time and motion study of your life, why would you need to report on every activity undertaken? Even more puzzling is why would you want to? If we have become so isolated from the real world that the only solace we receive is online recognition – here is a thought – turn off the device occasionally and re-enter the real world.

My worst experience of inappropriate phone use was when I was attending a friend’s grandmother’s funeral. A fellow mourner’s phone rang, at the graveside, during the burial. We can’t control incoming calls. But we can control our next action. Rather than ending the call or putting the phone into silent mode, the person took the call, and proceeded to start what could have been a lengthy discussion – right by the graveside! Oblivious to the glares of many, it took the action of a family member to usher the person away from the service. Had it not been disrespectful I think the phone would have ended up 6 feet underground!

And of course there are the safety issues – texting whilst crossing the road and holding your phone whilst driving. Last week alone, whilst driving to and from work, I observed numerous pedestrians facing their phones, texting or reading, whilst crossing the road. The Victorian Police are cracking down on drivers using their mobile phones. If your phone is not properly secured and you are spotted by the police, you face a large fine and loss of points. Car kits and headsets are the way to go. If you don’t have one in your car – simply don’t use your phone.

Let’s try and be more considerate of those around us when using this wonderful technology. And remember, there are times when it is ok to turn off your phone – or at least resist the urge to check on it every couple of minutes. Believe me; it will still be there when you next check (at an appropriate time).

Tell us what bad mobile phone habits really drive you crazy.
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