Rage Against The Machine: PDAs And The New Rude

You know what’s offensive? When someone starts texting while you’re talking to them.

The Washington Post‘s Monica Hesse brings up a very real issue of modern manners today: how to react when a companion begins texting. While it seems the rules would be pretty clear-cut – Don’t Do It – like cellphone mores, it seems like this is something we’re going to need to hash out.

Texting mid-sentence, even on the most urgent of BlackBerry business is, obviously, rude. Unless it’s accompanied by copious apology and a very convincing explanation of the text’s importance, it’s pretty much inexcusable. Need to text a friend our location? Fine. Just explain first. Excuse yourself, even. Hesse’s point, however, is that there is no stopping the phenomenon: all we can do is react appropriately. And what’s appropriate? Says Hesse, “Should you stay, or should you go? Should you cool it, or should you, perhaps, blow?”

There’s a crotchety deli near my house that has one of those signs reading, “if you’re talking on a cell phone you’re obviously too important to be here.” PDA stuff is trickier, because there’s not the same obvious noise-pollution issue, but to a companion it’s almost worse. I’m a luddite hard-liner who’s always looking for an excuse to turn off my connections to the world, so I find it hard to understand why it’s not basic policy to retire technology for the duration of a social function. In this I differ from my steady, and I frequently find myself talking to the rapidly texting hand as he ascertains where some random band is playing later in the evening and whether someone’s friend from high school is in town for the night. Initially, I took this hard and personally. Eventually I figured out that the man actually didn’t know that this bothered me! Because it had never come up, it hadn’t occurred to him! And maybe a lot of people are like this. As such, perhaps they should be pitied, spoken to slowly, rather than censured. The truth is, anyone this oblivious is going to be equally untouched by pointed cold silences and other instruments in the passive aggressive poison arrow arsenal. As such, we need guidelines. We need dialogue. Preferably of the spoken variety.

Text Is Cheap [Washington Post]

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