[dropcap]I[/dropcap] learned the basic rules of etiquette at my family dinner table. Napkin on lap. No elbows on the table. Wait your turn to speak. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Say please and thank you, often. When the phone rang, my sister, brother and I looked intently at each other knowing that it was against the rules to answer it. If it rang more than once, we “took it off the hook” so as not to deter from OMG—family conversation! When we went “out” to a restaurant once every couple months, we better be on our best behavior. We waited patiently until the adults finished their meals and coffee without Game Boys, iPods, iPads and iPhones…can you imagine?Enter 21st Century technology and these basic rules of etiquette have gone the way of the buggy whip! Parents are still teaching table manners, albeit a condensed version, but the art of conversation is now fragmented with rings, zings and other electronic sounds. Today, it’s totally acceptable to dine at a four-star establishment with your spouse and your phone chirping away. Table for three please!!
Turn off and Tune in
My fear is that our reliance on our cell phones and other portable devices is at the expense of enjoying and fostering real-live relationships. I dare you to ‘turn off’ whatever you’re dependent on at your next meal or face-to-face encounter, and tune in to some good old-fashioned food, fun and fellowship!
Last week I even heard on the radio that some restaurants are trying to improve ambiance by tantalizing patrons to check-in their phones at the door in exchange for a 5 percent discount. Anyway…it’s a start.
Speaking of getting started, our cellular and other portable device etiquette ought to be viewed as running parallel with all other accepted modes of ‘verbal and non-verbal’ communication, which have been around for decades. When in doubt, we suggest erring on the side of common courtesy and sense. Communications etiquette is always in style and can result in getting YOU noticed while positively setting you apart from just about everyone else — these days!