July is National Cellphone Courtesy Month — who knew? In honor of etiquette, I had a quick chat with social media director Bonnie Sharon of Wireless Zone, who also blogs under the pseudonym Cellular Chloe. Sharon recently conducted a survey on cellphone etiquette, and has some tips on how to behave best for mobile.
An edited version of our conversation appears below.
Q: What is the most important thing people should know about cellphone courtesy?
As far as being courteous goes, think of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. But talking loudly on your phone in a public place seems to be something that annoys people, especially talking while waiting in line or on the bus where you can’t walk away.
Another thing is ringtones. Either people have them on loudly or they’re explicit and obnoxious. That’s just not something you need to hear.
Is there a generation gap in what people find offensive?
I’m just guessing, but because younger people are more likely to have special ringtones or listen to music on their phones, they may not find that too offensive. But that’s kind of a guess.
What are some guidelines for texting and calling after hours? Are there different rules for each?
Well, it depends on the person. I try to make a rule not to call or text after 9 o’clock, and if some has children, then it’s even earlier — say 8 o’clock. Texting and calling aren’t as different as you might think, because lots of people have notification ringtones and a text may still buzz loudly.
There are some of my friends that I might text late at night, because I know them. I know that my friend has vibrate set on her phone, so if I want to tell her something in the middle of the night I don’t worry about waking her up.
What about mobile social media etiquette?
One thing to think about is tagging photos. On Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter, when you’re tagging photos you should always ask for permission first. Especially if you’re out and people might be in a situation where they’re drinking — you never know who sees their profile.
The other thing is vacation pictures. I’m always annoyed when I see vacation pictures, because if you post a picture of yourself saying, “Hey, we’re on a road trip for three weeks!” then people will know you’re away.
So it’s a security issue and an etiquette issue?
Well, it kind of follows with the whole tagging thing. If someone else is in your photos, then you’re also letting people know they’re not home. You should get the permission of someone else in your photos, they should know what you’re doing with that photo.
What about Twitter?
With Twitter, it’s important not to send the same message over and over again. For my account, I post a lot about cellphones, but I also add in other things. I try not to give the same message out with every message.
If you have people following you on different platforms, you should use the different platforms for what they’re best at. Twitter is good to share a link. On Facebook, I think it’s more acceptable to share music or say what you’re up to — you know a little more casual. People should think about what they’re posting and differentiate.
What’s your top mobile pet peeve?
Mine is — and I’m guilty of doing it myself — is when you’re in a setting with one person and the other person is constantly on their phone or texting. That implies that whoever is on the phone is more important than me or our conversation.
I bet people do that without even noticing sometimes.
Right. You think of something you want to remember later and maybe you’re not even texting anyone, just putting it into your phone. But implies that you’re not paying attention to whatever the other person is saying. It’s interesting to see [in the survey] that people named that as a pet peeve, but then also said they do themselves.
What were other offenses that people flagged? Any surprises?
One of the things people mentioned is texting while driving. They saw that as a bad offense, sort of framing it as, well, if you’re texting in a car near me you’re not taking my life seriously. People saw that as a bad offense, one of the worst.
I was surprised to see that talking on the phone at a restaurant wasn’t mentioned as that offensive — I thought that would be higher up. Other places besides restaurants that people mentioned were people talking in restrooms.
Oh, I certainly wouldn’t want to get one of those calls.
Yeah, that’s kind of creepy.
Tell us: What are your top cellular pet peeves? Let us know in the comments.