Cell phone etiquette that might offend

As a kid, my family always sat down and had dinner together and if the telephone rang we would never answer it.

Once my sister, brother and I began to get older and had phones of our own we were not allowed to have them at the dinner table with us.

Nowadays, with technology attached to our bodies in one way or another at all times it is hard to distinguish what the proper etiquette for cell phone use actually is.

Discretion: Of course all of these rules are opinions and there are extreme circumstances when they should be disregarded. Otherwise, for the sake of humanity, try and follow them. It’s drastic, I know, but we don’t want to lose the skill of actual, verbal communication just because we constantly are using technology to do it for us.

Let’s start with a basic one, the movie theater.

Obviously, by now everyone should know to put their phones on vibrate or turn them off, however, there still are the occasional deviants who decide their phone light and texting fingers won’t bother anyone else. My rules for phones in the theater: only look at your phone to check the time. When doing this, be discreet and leave it in your purse, coat pocket and so forth as not to disturb your fellow moviegoers.

This next one really irks me, church.

If you cannot go into church for an hour or a little over an hour and leave your phone at home or in the car then you need to get your head checked.

What could be so important that you can’t take an hour out of your Sunday to spend time with yourself and your religion? It is unreal that I have been present at mass where the priest has had to begin by telling people to silence their phones as if we are in a theater. People go to church because they want to, along with the occasional teen or child who goes against their will, so why should your phone, iPad, or any other distractions be present.

To me, those two examples are the most obvious, well, besides school. If phones are found outside of lockers at school, they should be taken away. There’s no need for them while learning is going on.

Now we delve into the more gray territory: family gatherings, parties, weddings and other events that include 20 or more people.

Currently, many cameras on cell phones are much better than the common point and shoot from a handful of years in the past. Because of that, I think it is fair game to have your cell phone with you during these events. The occasional text is OK, but that’s it, occasional. If you are with people, especially friends and family, there is no reason you can’t hold a conversation with these people. Use those great communication skills you’ve developed over the years and strike up a good conversation, whether it be a recent book, movie or show you have seen, a current event or something going on in your life. Whatever it is, just talk to each other and enjoy each other’s company.

I am not discouraging people from carrying their phones with them at times like these. I think it is completely acceptable to have your phone on or near you, but keep the actual usage to a minimum.

Finally, similar to when I was growing up, I get a bit offended when people use their phones while eating a meal together. You have either spent time preparing a meal or possibly have gone out for an occasion, so why waste your time browsing the Internet, texting people you aren’t with or playing a stupid game that involves birds flying across the screen on your phone? It’s rude, inconsiderate and pathetic.

I have gone out to eat with a group of people before and one by one every single one of those people pulled out their phones and completely ignored each other. I wanted to scream but, instead, I sat silently and left my phone in my purse, where it belonged at the time.

Trust me, I certainly have broken all of these suggestions before, but I really try to stick by them. It’s important to have them in the back of your mind so you can at least be aware if and when you are veering away from the proper guidelines.

So, keep your phones close, but your family and friends closer.

— Michelle Meunier Staff Writer