Civil Use of Cell Phones and Pagers
Like e-mail and instant messages, the technology of cell phones and pagers means that people can reach you any time of the day and in any place in the world—as long as that place has a cell phone or satellite service. Despite this technology's pervasiveness, you need to think each time your cell phone rings or your pager goes off whether this is truly a convenient or considerate time to answer it.
The Right Way to Use Ringer Tones
Many people choose to assign a ringer tone to certain people's phone numbers that they've stored in their cell phone. That way when they hear a certain song, they know who is calling or text messaging them.
While this may be convenient for you, it isn't always polite for the people near you—especially if you've got your ringer tone on a loud volume or set to a potentially obnoxious song. If you must use anything but standard ringer tones on your cell phone, do others a favor and at least keep the volume down.
Taking Calls with Others Around
You should never answer a cell phone that rings in the middle of dinner or a business meeting—unless you've told the people you're with ahead of time that you're expecting a call. It's always courteous to give your full attention to the people you're with in the here and now—not to a ringing cell phone. You may want to turn your cell phone off or to vibrate when you're going to be busy.
If you know you're going to be tied up in a business meeting or meal for a long time and don't want to miss any calls, take comfort in knowing that your voice mail can take messages for you. You could even record a message that tells callers exactly when you will be available later. Then you won't seem rude if you can't get to an important call. Later on, when you need to use the ladies room at some point, you can quickly check your messages and, if it's an emergency, make a quick call back to let the caller know that you'll be back in touch as soon as you can.
Calls in Public
With the advent of the cell phone came the demise of the old-fashioned phone booth. This nifty contraption was fully enclosed and ensured that everyone making a phone call in public could do so in relative privacy. Not anymore. Today, you'll find people taking calls on their cell phones at the most inopportune times or in the most inconvenient locations. You've probably experienced the commuter who's having a loud conversation en route to his office or someone walking down the street while screaming into his phone.
There's nothing wrong with taking a cell phone call in public. In fact, being outside may be the ideal place to talk on your cell phone, because you won't be bothering those in close quarters. Here are some places where it's fine to take a call on your cell phone:
In the park At the beach At the playground While walking your dog On the platform of a train station At the airport
Here are some places where you might want to think twice about talking on your cell phone:
In any store, restaurant, or service establishment. At a sporting event, including intramural or your kids' Little League. In the line at the bank, movies, or anywhere else where others are nearby. At a cultural event, including plays, movies, or museums.
Go ahead and have that nonchalant conversation with your best friend on your cell, but if you're going to get into anything personal or emotional, you would be best to find a private place to have that conversation.
The only time it's OK to check up on someone else's call log or chat room use is when you suspect that this person may be getting herself into trouble, such as a child chatting with a potential abductor.
Call Logs Are Private
If you've ever forgotten someone's phone number, you know you could scroll back into your “calls received” log on your cell phone to find that person's phone number.
Despite the ease with which you could snoop on your significant other or a family member through her cell phone, you shouldn't do it. You should feel confident that you're making any cell phone calls in private and that people won't be checking up on you.