By Leonie McKiernan
Ok, I’m probably going to make myself sound unbelievably old but I admit it - I remember a time before mobile phones - and it isn’t centuries ago, thank you very much. Hard as it may be to believe - for anyone under 20 - phones used to be attached to wall and there was nothing remotely mobile about them.
In fact early mobile phones resembled a suitcase with a handset attached and the limitations of network coverage meant you were better off using a long piece of string and two plastic cups.
But now, there’s been a mobile phone explosion. Look around any street and you’re guaranteed that half the people you meet are on the phone, oblivious to the world around them. Kids as young as five are now trawling the internet or texting their baby infant classmates. And God forbid we miss a call or don’t answer a text straight away, the world as we know it may end.
Of course, with a phone comes new social expectations so here are the absolute no-nos of phone etiquette. Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of at least one of them:
• Counter talk: We can’t stand it if a shop assistant doesn’t immediately serve us but some people have no problem rocking up with their purchases while having a full blown conversation on the phone. It’s like the poor shop assistant isn’t even there. Kudos to any disgruntled staff member who double charges the offending customer - I’d be tempted.
• Talking while driving: This seems to now be at epidemic levels. Last week I approached a roundabout only to encounter not one, but three men circling with no indicators activated, all glued to their mobile phone. One was gesticulating wildly with his other hand as well, I’m assuming he’s developed the ability to drive with his knees. Hooray for him, the big numpty.
• Speak English: Ok, we’re all guilty of using text speak but when you have students handing in essays littered with text speak because they can’t get out of the habit, maybe we should worry. Try adding a vowel or maybe three. Be daring, meet the challenge of predictive texting or how about spell checking your messages before you press send. Trust me, no one wants to get a text reminder of a “pubic meeting” in the local community centre. No one.
• Talking REALLY LOUDLY: This seems to only affect men and older ones at that. You’ll see them standing randomly in fields or at the side of the road roaring into the phone as if they really can’t believe modern technology can transmit a softly spoken voice miles to the next phone. Stand within two miles of them and you’ll hear all the juicy details of their lives, their loves and their bowel movements. As bad as it is for you, rest assured it’s worse for the recipient of their actual phone call, you’ll only lose your lunch, they’re destined to lose their hearing as well.
• Mobile Muppet - Sadly there are people out there for whom the prospect of five minutes without their mobile is enough to lead them into a fully fledged meltdown. Say hello to the world’s most annoying individual - the Mobile Muppet. Social niceties don’t apply to this moron and don’t expect them to have the sense, or manners, to switch off their phone regardless of the circumstances - family wedding, funeral, cinema - they think their call is just too important. Try and resist the urge to grab their mobile and throw it out the nearest window, except, of course, if it’s a family funeral, then it’s game on.
• The stupid voice mail message - “I’m sorry Fred can’t answer his phone but if you’d like to leave a message then please press 9, 5 and 3 followed by the year man landed on the moon and then jump up and down”..... Stupid voice mail messages are funny for, umm, five year olds. So if you’ve got the fake celeb greeting, the daft wait for the beep (that never comes) or anything with a crying/laughing/farting baby as your message minder, don’t be surprised if people stop ringing you all together.