Written by Salina Jivani
Think back to your childhood and likely the only distraction at the dinner table was the TV. Fast forward nearly two decades and all you see around you—any place, any time of day—is people glued like zombies, to their cell phones, unblinking. You see mommies pushing strollers while snap-chatting their walk in the park with their newborn, teenagers taking selfies, and people checking their email alerts neurotically while picking up prescriptions from the local pharmacy.
Cell phones are pretty much an appendage nowadays, and a vital one at that, permanently affixed to us and within our lives.
And if you’ve ever misplaced or broken your cell phone, you understand how handicapped, even lost, you might feel without it. It’s…debilitating, crazy as it might sound.
But it’s the sad truth: a measly 3×5 screen now dominates our lives from instructing us on when to wake up to commanding us to try for that baby now! Right now! However, it shouldn’t wield power over us completely and thoroughly.
In fact, if it all possible, be particularly mindful of using your cell phone in the below instances to make sure you’re practicing a healthy dose of safety as well as common courtesy to those around you.
The Dinner Table
Dinner time is sacred because it’s one of the few times the entire day most families are able to spend together. Be respectful of this time by giving your loved ones the attention they deserve by filing away your cell phones and devices and focusing on talking about your day or asking your spouse or children about theirs. Keeping this time distraction-free ensures you’re making the most of time of your time with one another.
The checkout counter
A common pet peeve cashiers and receptionists share is serving people who refuse to get off their cell phones while they’re at the checkout counter. Talking on the phone while you’re face-to face with someone is not only rude, but it can also delay the people in line behind you as you try to focus on speaking to two people at once.
The amount of time it takes to check out is minimalistic, so don’t be rude—ask your phone buddy to hold or ask if you can call them back in a few. Not only will you be minding your manners to the cashier, but you might also catch a sneaky pricing error as your ring up!
In quiet, public places
If you’re in a public place that requires some semblance of quiet, like the library, a church or a waiting area, stow away your cell phone or at least silence it. If you must use it, be sure to speak softly and mind the people around you. Though most people are civil and won’t complain, no one cares to hear a blaring rendition of how your blind date went last night or how gassy you were because of that milkshake you drank. Better yet, if you can walk out somewhere and take your conversation in private, do that.
When you’re in company
There’s no better way to make someone feel ignored or insignificant than by pulling out your cell phone while they’re talking to you—even if they’re just discussing the weather. When in company, use your phone only when you absolutely have to—say for a personal or work emergency. Otherwise, screen your calls so that you’re inclined to answer only those that are most important, like from your family, filtering the rest to voicemail. This subtle action goes a long way in conveying to someone that they deserve—and have—your complete attention.
While you’re driving
Most states have laws against texting and driving, but talking on the phone can sometimes be equally as distracting. With roadway fatalities on the rise, especially on highways, minimize your chances of getting into a wreck by placing your cell phone out of sight. Instead, turn on the radio and enjoy some time to yourself. If you must talk on the phone, use your car’s Bluetooth or put your caller on speaker so you can still use both hands freely.
Of course this in no way a comprehensive list of all the times you absolutely should NOT be on your phone. Use your judgment and respect the presence of those around you by putting it away when you feel its use is least appropriate. Doing so will score you brownie points from those around you and prevent you from morphing into a complete cellphone zombie.