Originally created 05/12/02

Web site tackles burning questions of cell phone etiquette



Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.

- Edward R. Murrow

It's a funny situation I'm sure you've noticed, too.

A muted cell phone ring will go off in some public place and suddenly just about everyone begins reaching into pockets and purses to see whether the ring is for them.

Only last week I saw my son's Little League coach get a call while directing the base paths during a game.

If you think about it, this is really remarkable, just short of telepathy. Most of us are now connected full-time with those to whom we need connections.

I, myself, find it very convenient to take a phone to the store in case I need to call the commandant to ask her whether I'm supposed to be buying ground chuck or ground sirloin.

Cell phone use has exploded in the past few years, so much so that the old reliable (well, maybe it wasn't always reliable) pay phone has almost vanished.

But with this phenomenon come some social questions. What are good manners of cell phone use? What is the proper thing to do?

It's become such a concern that when restaurants in Seattle began asking customers to turn off their cell phones while dining, The Seattle Times took time to editorialize its approval.

There have also been concerted efforts in legislatures across America to curb phone calls while driving, although most statistics place "talking on a phone" low on the list for the cause of traffic mishaps.

Well, there actually are some rules developing.

A Web site called LetsTalk.com offers the following tips on cell phone etiquette. Somebody had to do it, and these seem to make sense. See what you think.

Lights off, phone off: No one should take a call at a theater or in the movies.

Off means off: Respect the rules and when asked by an establishment or airline to refrain from using a cell phone, do so.

Don't cross the personal-space boundary: Be mindful of how close you are to others when using a cell phone in a public place.

Stop noise pollution: Remember to keep conversations private and not shout into the phone.

Heads up: Act responsibly when walking or driving while on a cell phone.

(And whether you use a cell phone or not today, I know your mother would like to hear you say, "Happy Mother's Day!")

Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or bkirby@augustachronicle.com.