Cell phones have become such an integral part of our lives that it's hard to imagine how we ever survived without one. But it does raise the question - do you really want or even need to be available 24/7? The more available you make yourself, the more available everyone expects you to be, to paraphrase the words of a famous person. Nowadays people expect you to answer immediately, and will be annoyed when you don't instead of thinking that hearing from you is a pleasure. Someone who expects you to always be available can become quite annoying. Have you ever had a call on your cell phone when you're in the bathroom? Or left your cell phone on at night, only to have someone ring you when you're fast asleep? Nobody minds getting a call when it's important, but what about if it's not?
Whenever you walk around in our modern world, you see people with their cell phone clamped to their ear, talking away. If you're a businessperson, there are times when being instantly available is extremely useful and profitable. But for most of us, that call that we get when we're on the toilet or fast asleep isn't usually going to win or lose us a million bucks, mostly it could have waited until a more convenient time. Still, you left the phone on, so you made yourself available to take the call.
In a bygone era, etiquette and manners ruled society with an iron fist, but these have gone out the window in the modern world of cell phones. Have you gone to a quiet restaurant for an intimate dinner with your special partners, only to be disrupted numerous times throughout the meal by the person at the table next to you talking at full volume on their cell phone? I certainly hope you turned off your own cell phone during the meal! I occasionally speak to groups, and there's nothing more annoying and distracting than a cell phone ringing. No matter how much you try to ignore it, it disrupts the presentation both for you and for the audience. Even worse is when the offender actually answers the call there and then. It should be automatic to turn off your cell phone before a meeting or presentation.
Another big no-no as far as I'm concerned is having your cell phone on in a place of worship. I believe the correct etiquette is that you don't take the phone at all, or at most have it set to vibrate if a call comes in. And you definitely shouldn't answer it. God probably isn't very impressed with your expensive gadget, and nobody else will be either if it disturbs their prayers.
Most modern cell phones now have a vibrate mode if you really need to be contacted - so use it! If you know it's urgent, leave the room before speaking on the phone, don't start talking as you head for the door. Maybe it's time for us all to create some new rules of etiquette about cell phone usage, and realize that the world probably won't come to an end if someone has to wait an hour or two to talk to us.
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