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Expat wanderer

Cell Phone Etiquette: What do you think?

AdventureMan and I were having lunch yesterday and I saw a couple at another table, both on their cell phones. So, like they were sharing a meal, but not really sharing time with each other.


I’m not that big of a cell/mobile phone fan, although my son and my sister both have iPhones, which I look at with envy and think one day I will get one. I carry it because I think it would really be a bad thing in Kuwait to be in a car accident, not my fault, with our without a cell phone. I carry it so I can reach my husband in an emergency. But sometimes, yes, my bad, I forget it and don’t even miss it. Sometimes I stick it in my purse and remember two days later that it is still there.

Here is how I see it. If you are with another person – like if you and your best-friend-forever are having lunch, sharing your deep down secrets, how do you feel about them taking a phone call, one that really doesn’t matter? I totally understand if there are emergencies, or even if one of the children wants to ask something, but what about a full-blown conversation? Chat chat chat chat chat as if you don’t exist?

AdventureMan and I used to disagree about this. Now, if he gets a phone call and he thinks it can wait, he doesn’t answer. If he thinks it might be important, he answers but keeps it short. If we are in a large group and it is a crisis call, he will leave the group, and not subject us to be unwilling evesdroppers. I am very comfortable with this. if it is just the two of us and a tricky phone call comes in, I just pull out my Sudoku and work on a puzzle until he is free to rejoin me. It works for us.

I feel the same way about texting. Some people are very good at doing it so subtly that no one else knows; I don’t mind that. If you are in a meeting, however, and there is a speaker, don’t you think the right thing to do is to put away your phone and pay attention to the speaker? If you are with a friend, isn’t it rude to be texting all the time to someone else? What kind of message does that send about how much you value the relationship with me?

If you are texting while you are driving, how much attention are you paying to the road? I see you, half in my lane because you are trying to read the response!

I don’t like being accessible to the world 24/7. I think these mobile phones are supposed to be our servants, not our masters. I like seeing who is calling (if your number doesn’t show your name on my phone, I won’t be answering!) I like getting and sending messages. I just have a feeling there is a time and place for everything. If I have made plans to see you – I want you to pay attention to me!

Am I way out of whack on this?

There is a little voice telling me this is generational, that I am falling a little out of step with the modern way of doing things. So, you tell me. How do you see it?

April 25, 2009 - Posted by | Character, Communication, Family Issues, Generational, Living Conditions, Marriage, Random Musings, Relationships


  1. I agree with you, but the blackberry makes it worse, cause you have incoming emails etc – I was never much of a mobile freak – I dont like talking on mobiles or texting and would keep the same mobile for years on end.

    But the blackberry ended all that. It’s like I cant leave it anywhere…It literally begs me to pick it up and fiddle with it.

    Comment by hilaliya | April 25, 2009 | Reply

  2. I totally agree, it’s completely rude. I mean I get 1 or two texts, or an important phonecall, but not cutting a conversation to have another one by the phone, while ur sitting there doing nothing waiting in mid-sentence for them to finish.

    Comment by MiYaFuSHi | April 25, 2009 | Reply

  3. You are totally right.. what annoying me the most when I am out with my friend and we start sharing secrets suddenly she start texting her friend like nothing matters ! Although I believe that blackberry and those phones so addictive that owners may need to be weaned off them with treatment similar to that given to drug users, but come on ! pick up your BlackBerry from the table, turns it over, then can’t bring yourself to imagine such a dire possibility.

    Comment by M | April 25, 2009 | Reply

  4. I think your point on generational gap is correct on two prongs – both the stated technological perspective for the “older” generation but also on the more general thrust of your comments in a manners/social etiquitte for the “younger” generation. This, of course, is a generalization and doesn’t apply to everyone in either group.

    The cell phone/pda/BB/etc. are tools. They are neither good nor bad – they just are. As you noted, they’re great for emergencies – especially if you have children or a spouse who has to travel frequently. The good or bad evolves from the people who use them. If their life has little or no focus then they have no way of establishing proper boundaries and the tools can take over their lives – Blackberry’s are called “crack-berries” for a reason.

    You and AdventureMan seem to have found a good balance.

    There’s also the psychological make-up of the user as well: are they so insecure or such social-introverts that they have to respond just for the gratification? Are they so self-centered and egotistical that they think the whole world resolves around them and could really care less about whoever they may be with?

    And, what does it say of our own psychological and social health when we continue to involve ourselves with those who treat us with such disregard? “Dear Anne” would probably suggest discussing our hurt feelings with the offender. My thought was just get up and walk away…but I’m too much of non-confrontationist to ever follow my own advice. I would tend re-evaluate the whether the “friendship” was balanced or too one-sided to continue and then either accept the “rudeness” as a price to pay or let the relationship fade-away.

    Comment by BitJockey | April 25, 2009 | Reply

  5. the tech is def too overwhelming, both in nature and the way its used here in kuwait

    Comment by Victoria | April 25, 2009 | Reply

  6. Intlxpatr ;

    Wow you can do Sudoku on your cell phone , and you claim you are not tech savvy . impressive

    Gooooooooooooood morning

    Comment by daggero | April 26, 2009 | Reply

  7. Intlxpatr ;

    Wow you can do Sudoku on your cell phone , and you claim you are not tech savvy . impressive

    Gooooooooooooood morning
    Forgot to add excellent post! Looking forward to reading the next post!

    Comment by daggero | April 26, 2009 | Reply

  8. So your Blackberry is like a baby, Amer? Needs constant attention? How does your wife like your Blackberry, LOL??

    MiYaFuSHi – Whew! So it isn’t just me?!

    M – LLOOLL! It IS disconcerting, and it sure breaks the shared moment!

    BitJockey – hmmm. discussing hurt feelings with the offender . . . hmmm. Sounds very grown-up. I don’t think I am there yet, LOL!

    It isn’t just Kuwait, Victoria! It happens everywhere! It’s like we are all disconnected from the people we are with, and connected to the people we are NOT with, and the not-with people get priority!

    LLLOOOLLL, Daggero, no! ! ! I carry paper Sudoku, and pencils (with erasers!) and a pencil sharpener! I like to make notes, and I can’t do that on the computer!

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 26, 2009 | Reply

  9. “So your Blackberry is like a baby, Amer? Needs constant attention? How does your wife like your Blackberry, LOL??”

    She started this mess to begin with lol

    Comment by hilaliya | April 26, 2009 | Reply

  10. LLLOOOLLLL! Does she send you messages sometimes when you are in the same house? I do that, if hubby is on his phone too long 😉

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 26, 2009 | Reply

  11. Modern communication technology overwhelms me to the point I want to have as little to do with it as I possibly can.
    I would consider it rude if my best friend and I are out to lunch and he goes on taking and making calls as if it’s nobody’s business. I could understand it if he were an intensivist with critically ill patients in the ITU under his charge, which he clearly is not but to mutter sweet nothings while I am with him would offend me plenty.

    Comment by Of couscous and zugzug | April 26, 2009 | Reply

  12. I’m with you 100%. In fact there are places I go that I just leave the phone in the car so I won’t even be tempted to be interrupted.

    Comment by momcat | April 26, 2009 | Reply

  13. Sometimes it gets me wondering however did we use to manage without them mobiles twenty years ago?! I think meeting up with friends used to be a lot more fun back then. Anyway, in keeping with the times I can honestly say, today I have more mobile friends than ever before – ones that are constantly on the move and out of town and on their mobiles.

    Comment by Khaled Griffin | April 26, 2009 | Reply

  14. LLOOLL, BL. But what about computers and e-mail? I am thinking how handy those iPhones are when travelling, you can do everything, even send photos, keep up with e-mail – at your own convenenience?

    Momcat – Me too. And at the same time, I also recognize how they can save a life if you have them with you at the right time.

    Khaled – Was it only twenty years ago? I am shocked! But here is the real question as I see it – who takes priority . . . the people you are with or the people calling in? Or is it situational? Do you take all calls, or are there some calls you return later? Do you chat on and on when your friends are with you, or do you keep it short? (This is the part I suspect is generational, that among younger people it is not considered so rude. I am guessing this because I see it so often . . . and so sometimes, manners change.)

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 27, 2009 | Reply

  15. I have a friend who always says we should see each other more often. Whenever I run into her by coincidence she nearly begs me to go out with her. Well I did go out with her and she took call after call while I sat there wondering why the hell she had insisted we go out if she was going to spend so much time on the phone. We weren’t even a big group where it would be sort of ok we were just three girls! I thought it was annoying and frankly, since we were at a mall, I would have much rathered do some shopping than sit with someone who’s having a mundane conversation with someone else while I stay silent and bored. The point is I think it’s inconsiderate. Oh and I have seen someone obsessing over his blackberry in a meeting and he looks like a kid who’s sitting with adults but just won’t put away his toy. Know what I mean?

    Comment by 1001Nights | April 27, 2009 | Reply

  16. 1001 Nights – excellent example of worst case! The irony is all these tech gadgets have features, like unique ring tones for different numbers, so that one could know whether it was an important type call that one should excuse themselves to answer or a general every day call that one should wait and return later. In most cases, anyone who takes every call is just a way of declaring themselves more important than anyone they’re with. My girlfriend now has two phones. On number that only her kids and I have, the other is a publicized number (like for work). If she’s going out, she only takes her family only phone – if it rings, she knows it probably needs to be answered. If anyone calls the other while she’s out, she gets the callback number from caller-id or from the voice-mail. I do the same thing here. I have one number that I provide for everything – work, take-out/deliveries, etc., and another that is my personal friends only number.

    Comment by bitjockey | April 27, 2009 | Reply

  17. I am kind of like AdventureMan… I will only answer and keep it short if its an emergency, to the point where I was out with a friend and I received a call from another friend… I did not answer cuz I did not see it as an emergency but turn out that other friend was in the same place and she came to me and was like I saw you ignoring my call! Now how do you explain it to her LOL

    Comment by Ansam | April 27, 2009 | Reply

  18. 1001 – I don’t think I would go to a lot of trouble to spend time with that friend again! I agree with BitJocky, it sends a message that just about anything is more important than you . . . her actions speaking louder than her words. I totally know what you mean about the kid and his blackberry – there are times it’s like “what, your attention span is that short???”

    BitJockey – That is a great idea – separate phones. And now, the technology is SO cheap, that it is totally possible. I’m thinking about doing that myself!

    Ansam – OMG! That would be a nightmare! She can see you ignoring her call! LLLOOOLLL! How do you get out of that one??? i prefer texts in a situation like that. It can be handled more subtly.

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 27, 2009 | Reply

  19. How is that lady in that picture. I could’nt help but admire her. She looks so good.

    Comment by kapil | April 28, 2009 | Reply

  20. Who is that lady in thr picture (with that cell phone). I could’nt help but admire her. She looks so good.

    Comment by Kdd | April 28, 2009 | Reply

  21. LOL I told her I was eating and busy talking with my friend and that I was planning on calling her back! Of course she did not take it so well.. but she said she understands, and we are still friends heehee

    Comment by Ansam | April 28, 2009 | Reply

  22. Now THAT is a good friend, one who gives you the benefit of the doubt. 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 28, 2009 | Reply

  23. I seem to have the opposite problem. My husband would always answer my calls but now he has a blackberry he is determined for in to only intrude when he wants it to so I cannot get hold of him. I feel l have have lost him

    Comment by eileen | July 12, 2009 | Reply

  24. Call phone in the purse (or jacket if you are a guy) not on the table when you are out for dinner with me – that is my rule:)

    Comment by Inger | August 6, 2015 | Reply

    • Good rule, Inger 🙂 Shows respect for the company.

      Comment by intlxpatr | August 10, 2015 | Reply

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