How is Your Mobile Etiquette? (And a giveaway!)

Intel wants to give one of my readers a netbook.

My husband and I were recently enjoying a bottle of wine while watching the sunset over the water. There was a lull in the conversation – not an awkward, uncomfortable one, just a pause. He stared at the river and the colors washing over the clouds and I picked up my mobile and checked my email. Ironically, the only email worth reading was one from Alison at Intel who wanted to tell me about a mobile etiquette poll Intel and Harris Interactive had done. (She was also offering you, my readers, an amazing giveaway. I’ll get to that in a minute.)

“Nine out of ten adults say they’re annoyed by some mobile behaviors,” she wrote. “But only 38 percent actually admit to personal wrongdoing.” I chuckled at the irony of reading this message from Alison while I myself was behaving very badly in this regard. Checking email while on a date ranked pretty high among the most offensive behaviors reported. Intel even made a silly video about this very behavior. Also, the public restroom (as illustrated) is noted as one of the most inappropriate places people have been spotted using mobile their devices. Ewww.

I looked up to share this irony with my husband but quickly realized — from the dirty look on his face — that he had joined the ranks of the nine of out of ten who are annoyed by someone else’s lack of mobile etiquette. So I quickly joined the less populous 38 percent of those who admit to wrongdoing, apologized, put my phone away, and poured us both another glass of wine.

How good is your mobile etiquette? Here’s a little quiz to help you decide:


I learned early in life that the best defense is a good offense. So I quickly changed the subject. “Intel wants to give one of my readers a netbook!” I said. “I guess if people are going to learn mobile manners, they need the right tool for the job.”

“Wow!” he said, impressed, stunned, and jealous. His desire to have – or give away on his blog – a netbook had quickly replaced his annoyance at my poor mobile etiquette.

He can’t have this netbook. But you can. And this is just your average netbook either. It’s the gorgeous Vivienne Tam HP Mini. This is a netbook so sweet you will make all your friends jealous. Here’s a photo:

What do you have to do to win it? Answer this question in the comments: What is your worst mobile manners offense to date? This is true confession time. It’s not your chance to rat out your sister. So tell it like it is.

I will choose a random number from the comments. And Alison will send that person this adorable Vivienne Tam netbook. I don’t trust myself to send it on if I get my hands on it because I have been coveting this particular piece of geek bling since it came out.

This contest is closed! Dana won!

108 thoughts on “How is Your Mobile Etiquette? (And a giveaway!)

  1. I once got a semi-important call while I was in line to order coffee. It was important enough to answer, even though I was only two people away from the register (i really try not to talk on the phone at these places). I managed to sputter out my order when I got up to the counter, and the barista asked for my name (too quietly) probably three times before saying “We’ll just put your name down as cell phone.”

    He probably didn’t need my name, but he made his point. Each sip of my non-fat latte included a glance at my “cell phone” nick name and a wave of guilt for my poor mobile manners.

    Oy vey!

  2. I am one of these people who get really ticked off at people using their phones during meetings, at dinner, etc. I am very careful to always make sure that my cell phone ring ringers and alerts are always turned off (not just on vibrate, but OFF) whenever I am at a place where I feel it is inappropriate. However, one time I did forget to do so, and it was at a hospital, while I was visiting someone.

  3. Taking up multiple (scarce) plugs an airport because I had to charge my laptop, phone and PSP.

  4. In a way I’m glad I’m not the only idiot out there to text while driving but still it’s awful since it’s so darn dangerous. Well, a few months ago I was texting while driving and I took my eyes off the road. I ended up crashing onto a street light. It’s one of those old street lamps that aren’t too tall so it wasn’t that bad but it was so awful because it could have been a person! I haven’t texted while driving since then. I got a humongous ticket and had to pay quite a pretty penny to repair the damages done (because of my recklessness) to my car. It was definitely one of the scariest and stupidest moments of my life 🙁

  5. complaining about bad drivers that use their cell phones…while driving and talking on my cell! 🙂

    no smart phone for me yet b/c i know i will be addicted to checking email. i have become a texting madwoman recently and find myself frequently wandering into intersections while trying to type out where to meet for drinks, instead of checking for oncoming traffic. i also tend to be loud on the phone and have totally been yelled at for talking too loud on the bus. so i have learned to speak in what i consider a “stage whisper” and now i only get the occasional dirty look instead of verbally assaulted.

  6. My worst moment has been texting while driving with my kids in the car. Completely unsafe and I’m trying to stop.

  7. Would talking on my cell phone while waiting in line to use a public restroom and then not able to end the conversation so still talking away while using the bathroom count as totally ridulicious? It is sometimes so hard to end a conversation, and as women we do such a good job of multi-tasking.

  8. I actually have a pretty trecord at mobile etiquette. However, it is more by default than anything else. I live in a really rural area, so even cell access is iffy most of the time and you can forget hot spots.

    Now, if I had a Palm Pre and I could get access, I would be a different story I am afraid. One thing though, I would never pull out a phone in public. I hate it when I am forced to listen to others phone calls and have been known to berate friends for being rude enough to do so.

    Yes, and they are still friends too.

  9. I work the fitting room at Target, and I always find it very rude and annoying when people go into the fitting room talking on their phone very loudly and disturbing everyone in there…. The problem is once I leave work I forget how obnoxious I find those behaviors, and the other day I realized I had just spent my entire time in the dressing room at Nordstrom’s enthralled in conversation!

  10. My worst offense is having a pre paid phone and never leaving it on… costs money to take your call so only a select few have it.
    Call me at home or work if you need me.. that’s where I am most of the time.

  11. Using the phone while driving. I am the sort of driver that “aims” at whatever distraction has caught my eye. So talking and driving are NOT a good mix for me.

  12. My teenage step-son would say that my biggest problem is I DON”T live with my phone 24/7. He sends me text messages or calls and I’ll be out doing yard work or something and not answer that instant. Drives him crazy! But get me at my computer and in between shopping, tweeting, Facebook and email I can pass a whole day away.

  13. Not only have I set my cell phone to vibrate when on an airline rather than turning it off, but I have also composed text messages after the doors have been shut during pre-flight just so I can hit the send button as the wheels are coming off the ground.

  14. Unfortunately, I am guilty of numbers 8, 9, 13, 23 & 28 (this one made me laugh)!

    I HATE it when I hear folks on the phone in a public restroom. I have answered my phone in the restroom only once as I was drying my hands and heading out…but even that was bad. ‘Hello POT? It’s me, Miss Black calling…’ Yeesh.

    I also get annoyed when I hear folks prattling on about major dramas on their phones in stores. Of course, I don’t have any problem listening in…what a hypocrit!

    The worst offense to me: talking on the cell phone in a book store and/or library. I am the product of two English professors, so there is some serious sanctity in these places that must be observed. : )

    Great question & great prize!! Thanks!!

  15. …sure wish I had checked for typo-s!!!!

  16. Actually, thought I am a basic techie-neanderthal, I am a ‘Mobile Master’! Why it was not an etiquette-buster, for my son’s 21st birthday, we thought we would surprised him w/ a G-1……only for him to surprise us w/ G-1s for each of us as his ‘party favors’!!!! We spent his 21st b-day dinner text-ing each other!!!!
    Oh my, I certainly hope I finally win something…and the netbook would be awesome!

  17. I’m not so wedded to my cell that I check it regularly … also, no unlimited messaging/data plan, so that is a reinforcer of good behavior.

    But when I have my MacBook Pro and there’s wifi … I tend to do virtual worlds … in public … for hours.

    My poor study partner despairs.

    Getting better now, but I have problems closing my TweetDeck …


  19. My worse mobile offense would probably have to be the other day when I was not feeling well and at home and instant skyped a friend with some techie questions in the middle of him listening to a church service live…. as I looked at the time I suddenly realized he was online as he types notes while he is at church. So I am sure my message probably made a noise right in the middle of a service… I felt so bad… but then quickly im’d him sorry… will tty later.

  20. Okay so I have two phones – a BB for work and EnV2 for personal use. My work gets really busy during winter, and also I have nosy friends who want to know what’s going on during those times. So, during my son’s winter play, I had my BB and my personal cell phone buzzing…and yes, I had to check (hey it was dark). Okay, some of the e-mails and texts made me giggle so I had to respond…I think I deserved those looks….:)

  21. Ugh! Too many to admit! busy typing into my Blackberry at the park while my child is on the monkey bars, checking e-mail during class filed trips, who doesn’t talk on the phone while in Target?

  22. I am the ultimate bad mommy at times. When the children (5 and 7) are being pokey finishing up a meal at a restaurant or McDonald’s (not the same), I’ll go ahead and catch up on the headlines of the NYT on my iPhone or check my email. Bad parenting, but good for boredom.

  23. After my daughter was born early she was in the NICU for a month. One particular day we had gone to visit and as always told them to call us if they needed anything. We went to a movie and received a call from a hospital. Initially we stayed in the theater to find out what they wanted, then we left, only to find out it was the regular, “Everything is fine.” Phone call. So we went back in and finished the movie. But you could tell people weren’t too pleased with us at this point.

  24. I’m pretty much guilty of all that’s been posted so far. But what I hate most is when I catch my husband and I both laying inbed typing away on our phones instead of talking to each other!! We don’t get to spend that much time together so why do we waste do much of it on our stupid phones?!

  25. My worst offense would be going to my Uncles funeral and not turning off my cell. All of a sudden it does off with the song, Mercy, echoing thru the church! My cousins had a good laugh later at the get together but the old Aunts and Uncles will never forget this…. I am a young 60 year

  26. My worst offense is that I don’t care. I do it all – text WHILE I’m driving *yikes for wrestling with the steering wheel, keeping an eye on the road and trying to type* I don’t turn off my cell while I’m in the movies. I NEVER check my voicemail – in fact, I let it fill up so that it wouldn’t even come on (stalker ex). And I talk/ text/ read email when I’m waiting anywhere – I hate to wait and waste my time.

  27. I use it regularly while breast-feeding. (like now) There is a lot of downtime during nursing so I check email, text, read the news, play solitaire.
    I used to sneak texts while teaching. Phones are banned at the school where I teach, so my phone was usually away. Sometimes I’d txt during quiet reading.

  28. I’ve had cell phones for ages but just last week I bought a red Blackberry Curve on impulse. I love, love, love it! My boyfriend and I had a huge fight about three days after I bought it because I basically had not talked to him for that long. I spent those days playing with all the features and settings, and texting my girlfriend, oh, heaven, unlimited texting now! I refused to put it away and have “quality” time with him but the worse thing I did was to spend those late evenings after he went to sleep instant messaging a guy friend I used to go out with. I’m bad!!!

  29. My biggest offense just might be my *ahem* my somewhat impulsive reaction to the flood of incoming calls on my dear friend’s cell phone on the day of her wedding. As we worked to lace up her beautiful bodice, anxious family members bombarded her with silly questions and inane details. An intervention was clearly needed. I simply took the phone out of her hand mid-conversation and turned it off! Years later we are laughing about it still.

  30. My worst offense is really not having a cell phone. My boys are so annoyed when they wait two hours because they couldn’t contact me about the change in pick up time, etc.

  31. I was on a blind date and yeah it was not best moment back a few years ago I went on a dating site and set myself up on this date. Well I had been contacted chatted a bunch of times with this guy and thought Ok he sounds kind of normal so I went ahead and made my date to meet with him at a diner. Well we met and we sat down we were waiting for the waitress to come and get our order when his cell phone rang…he looked at the caller id and said shhhhhh hang on its my wife. Well I immediately stood up and exited the diner ASAP. That was not only rude but the guy was a lier as well. OH well I am happy to say I have been dating wonderful man for over two years and am very very happy. LOL

  32. Oh. I am also a voicemail criminal. I hate the stupid stuff, I will not respond to it, and I had a fairly hostile outgoing message for a long time that said, “Hi, this is Betsy. I don’t check my voicemail, so you should send me a text message, send me an e-mail, or try back.”

    I changed it after I my 6-year-old niece left me a message that went (as her voice faded off into the background, “Mommy, I don’t want to leave Aunt Betsy a message. It makes her angry.”

  33. The only offense I have is that I rarely leave my cell phone on. My friends call me and leave messages but it may be days before I check my messages. I must admit I am very tech unsavvy. I did receive your book for my birthday, so I’m hoping to be a Geek Goddess soon!

  34. My biggest is forgetting to put the darn thing on silent! It hasn’t rung in any place too inappropriate yet. But I’m sure it’ll catch me one of these days.

  35. I could not get off of my cell one day at the cafe where I work, and so proceeded to serve my customers across the counter with my phone glued to my face……………. SO RUDE! my boss yelled at me, and said she didnt care if Barack Obama was on the phone, it shouldnt happen again.

  36. Okay, my husband is not going to like this…. but I once was texting a friend while he was trying to be um, intimate.

    I probably would have gotten away with it but my friend made a joke and I busted up laughing… he looked up at me with a sad face and said… will you please unplug!

    I guess if I get a netbook out of this he won’t feel so bad after all…. and a plus is I won’t have to do my homework on his PC!

  37. I think I’m pretty good at not being inpolite….but I have been caught texting under the table, or getting so engrossed in a newsfeed that I don’t notice someone trying to get my attention.

    And as an aside, you’re not the only one coveting that netbook…great choice for a giveaway!

  38. While taking a class on controlling diabetes, I forgot to set my phone on vibrate and it kept ringing, of course my purse containing the phone was in a cubicle. Had to get up in middle of class trip over classmates to shut it off.

  39. My angel wings were clipped the minute I got my BlackBerry, for all the mobile sins I’ve committed. I’ve been busted for a variety of offenses including:

    * reading e-mails/texts while in line at Trader Joe’s, the bank, or any other NYC establishment, totally oblivious to the fact that I’m the next up and holding up the line
    * been known to be a Jawbone Bluetooth warrior, wearing my headset in public causing total strangers to think I’m talking to myself since no phone is pressed against my face. At least I’m doing it in style
    * having a scandalous conversation in public with my girlfriend about whatever date I’ve been on recently, complete with explicit details. C’mon, girls talk too
    * have forgotten to turn off my phone in silent movie theatres. Yes, I’ve been that girl
    * sin of all sins, I’ve texted while driving. You’ve done it too, admit it
    * when I’m bored, I read Facebook updates, sometimes on conference calls

    Hope my sins gave you a laugh. If I had a netbook, perhaps I’d get off my CrackBerry!

  40. My Top 3 mobile faux pas:

    1. Texting with a third and/or fourth party while with someone else.
    2. Always forgetting that pressing the button on my iPhone headset does NOT put the call on hold or mute, it hangs up the phone.
    3. Answering the phone when I know I cannot be fully present to the person calling me.

  41. Forgetting to turn it off or on silent mode when going to church! Now i just leave it at home to avoid the embarassment 🙂

  42. Worst offense: While having dinner with a then-boyfriend, in a very nice restaurant I chose, I answered the phone thinking it was our friends who were meeting us afterwards. I missed the call, so then I had to ring my voicemail to see if they’d left a message. By this point, he was firing laser-sharp-looks-of-evil at me, and I had to go outside to retrieve the message. When I came back (over five minutes later, after talking to the friends way too long), he read me the riot act about 1. having a phone out while in a nice restaurant, 2. not having it on vibrate, 3. answering it at the table, and 4. walking outside, leaving him alone at the mercy of the attractive waitress. 🙂 OK, I made the last one up. I was r-u-d-e. I wish I’d been more mea culpa at the time. I’m much better now. I hardly ever even drive and use the cell phone. Ladies- please stop texting/tweeting/phoning while driving!

  43. I have committed a lot of these sins, but I think texting and driving is by far the worst that I do.

    Of course, I’m also a big hypocrite, because I’ve demanded that friends turn over or turn off their phones when we’re together. Ignoring my companions for my crackberry is the one sin I almost never commit, because it drives me insane.

  44. I have forgotten to turn my ringtone off in the following places (this is just the last few months):

    – County commissioners’ meeting
    – The library
    – NAACP meeting
    – CHURCH

    I can only note that I am very quick to silence the ringer.

    I frequently gamble that I won’t get a call or text and don’t turn off the ringer. When I do turn the phone to “silent” or “vibrate,” I end up with a stack of voicemail and texts by the time I finally remember to turn the ringer back on.

  45. My worst offense is takeing calls while my children are talking to me. I’ve apologized soooo many times!! I am learning that nothing is as important as my kids talking to me!!

  46. Bathroom Blackberry. Talking, texting, emailing — any and all of the above, in the bathroom, is definitely my mobile manners offense. It’s not often, but it’s enough that I know it’s a problem. Even worse is the fact that when I hear other people talking on their cell/BB in the bathroom, I get annoyed. It’s only annoying when it isn’t you! 🙂

  47. addendum: my lovely wife claims she did apologize. I was probably too entranced by the rippling waters of the cape fear river (and the pinot grigot) to remember.

    also, she says I can’t have the netbook in any case, so I should stop commenting now.


  48. Wow! a lot of people text and facebook/twitter during church. I am sure that if I went to church I too would be guilty of that sin! I was recently in DC for a family funeral and while there we had a birthday celbration for my Grandmother who turned 85 today. She was in the middle of talking to me and I picked up my Blackberry (totally out of habit) and started to check the numbers on a project for work. My sister looked at me through very narrow and not very sisterly eyes and said “put….it….down.” I did. I did not pick it up again for a least an hour! I have a very hard time disconecting and find that unless I leave my Blackberry behind, it becomes a very bad influence on my otherwise polite and considerate behavior!

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