A new etiquette for smart phone usage

Related to my last post, I saw contrasting behaviors amongst guests at a wedding I recently attended.

  1. Four people were sitting at their table, after dinner, all heads down, interacting with their smart phones and not each other.
  2. One person, isolated herself from the reception by sitting at an out-of-the-way administrative desk, was intently typing a message on her phone for several minutes.

So, again, I get that phones are important methods of connecting us with the world beyond our immediate vicinity. They are very powerful. I know not what the four people were doing in the first situation. I believe that whatever the woman in the second was doing was very important to her. Therefore, I would like to propose the following social etiquette for smart phone usage:

  • If you are amongst people who are one-degree of separation or less from your acquaintance, excuse yourself from the situation before using your phone.

The one-degree or less part is specifically designed to encourage you to expand your social circle beyond social networks. You know, IRL (ahem, in real life). If you are at an event upon common purpose, then behave like an adult for christsakes, and interact with the others around you. If, on the other hand, you have uber urgent matters that must be attended to, do not be so rude as to isolate yourself RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR FACES. All it takes is a demure, polite, “Oh dear, this is important” and walk-the-fuck away. If it isn’t that important, then continue to attempt to engage the others in conversation. If you’re having trouble doing that, here are about 10 million results for conversation starters.

Of course, more than one degree of separation is hard to know in any given moment. If you’re walking down a crowded street, I don’t think there is any need to excuse yourself from the sidewalk. Or on a bus. Or train. If you’re among true strangers, fine, update Facebook about the creepy dude with the big camera. He’ll be posting about you later, so its only fair.