Cell Phone Etiquite

Probably not since Eli Whitney’s cotton gin has there been such an influential invention as the cellular telephone. Good ol’ Mr. Bell, inventor of the standard, tied-down phone in 1876, may or may not have imagined his phones would shed their restrictive cords, enabling friends to find each other at shopping malls, stranded drivers to call for assistance, and patrons of restaurants to become annoyed at more than just the slow service.

With these great abilities derived from tiny talking devices, there are great responsibilities, as Uncle Ben would remind us. We cannot go about wielding these devices in such a manner that is displeasing to God, let alone displeasing to the general public. And don’t get me wrong, I know most people know how to use a cell phone, and most people use it appropriately. But there is a small contingency of cell phone users who should re-evaluate their cell phone etiquette level.

Rule 1: Silencio el teléfono por favor!

There is not much more vexing than a ringtone sounding during a class, a meeting or a chapel. Not that this is ever intentional; in fact, it’s usually quite embarrassing. If you are one of those people who just forgets to put it on vibrate, don’t worry; there is a solution. Have your roommate keep you accountable allowing him or her to take away your phone for the rest of the day every time your phone sounds at an inopportune time. After a couple failures, every time you enter a class, you will make sure your phone is silent. A far simpler alternative is to always leave your phone on vibrate — that reduces your chances of embarrassing phone rings to 0 percent.

Rule 2: Unless you are televentriloquist, we can hear you.

Have you ever been on a really great phone conversation, maybe with a friend from out of town, and it feels like you’re the only ones in the room? Those are great conversations, but unless you want to include everyone around you in them, it’s best to find a quiet, secluded place. Take a walk around campus or go by the creek. This also applies to using your phone during classes. No matter how large the size of the room, no matter how low the whisper, people can hear you, and you don’t want to run the risk of upsetting those who listen, even in boring lectures. If it is imperative you communicate with someone, you could leave the room to talk or text message, if you’re into that. Just don’t let it get out of control; I’m no professor, but I’m sure they don’t appreciate students clickety-clicking on their phones during class. Most of the time, it can wait until after class.

Rule 3: Try letting go once in a while.

This is more of a suggestion, but if you’re feeling daring, try going without your phone for a while. Cell phones have only been around since the mid-‘80s, and only since the ‘90s have they saturated the culture. Before then, people managed to live normal, healthy lives. They met at predetermined places; they made time to meet face-to-face with each other, and even wrote letters — sent them with a stamp and everything. When I was a freshman, I took my English 110A and 110B classes with adjunct Larry Smith. He shocked our class when he told us he had never owned a cell phone, and somehow he is still breathing.

In closing, be conscientious of your cell phone usage. While convenient, it can also be distracting. As a paraphrased 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, so whether you dial or text or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

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