Mobile device etiquette and rudeness

Stefan Hammond/Computerworld Hong Kong
28 Nov 2013

Consider this: a group of friends gather socially. They're interacting, not taking mobile snaps of their cocktails and Facebooking them off to “friends” who aren't friends. They're socializing in person—at a restaurant or similar establishment. Actual conversation takes place.

The friends all stack their mobile devices in the center of the table as soon as they arrive. The mobiles can do whatever they want, but the first person who TOUCHES their device pays the bill. For the entire group. “Oh I'm sorry...” OK, you get the mai daan for the privilege.

I'm not making this up. It's called Phone Stack, and was invented by a guy named Brian Perez. As this article explains: “At the start of the meal diners place their mobile device face down in a pile on the table. The first person to grab their phone, for whatever reason, loses the game and has to pay for everyone’s meal. If everyone resists the temptation for the duration of the dinner, then the check is split.”

Net etiquette
Still, there are rules for politeness in mobile space as well as cyberspace. Netizens know that typing IN ALL CAPS is rude. It's like shouting using text. Then there's the flame wars that often wreck online communities as petty disputes swamp forums.

So what are the rules for mobile device etiquette? I don't know. It used to be that mobile phone owners would set them to silent-mode in public events, and only answer calls if they were urgent. I still abide by those rules, and know others who do as well.

But perhaps politeness isn't what it used to be in the mobile space. And a recent practice has me boiling.

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