e-Etiquette, or lack thereof

My first college experience started in the fall of 2001. At that time, you rarely saw a cellphone or mp3 player in anyone’s hands, be it an instructor’s or a student’s.

Nine years later, these devices are perma-glued to practically everyone’s hands or ears as you roam anywhere on the Lethbridge College campus or even at the malls or a street in downtown Lethbridge. There’s no denying or escaping the progress technology has taken in the last few years. Nine years ago, I never wanted to be known for owning a cellphone, but, alas, now I too can go-go Gadget iPhone.

If you attend or work at the college, there’s no doubt you’ve seen the off-limits signs for where you can’t have your phone turned on or are discouraged from using it in certain places. I’ve noticed these signs make people believe they are more like guidelines than actual rules you need to follow – but I wish people would. Places like the Information Commons in the Instructional Building or the library – a place you would think would be quiet by default – have been tainted by the beeps and boops of non-silenced cell phones and other electronic devices.

There was one day I was in the Information Commons for a couple hours catching up in one of my classes. Someone’s text alert went off. Thinking that the owner just forgot to silence their phone, I continued on with my work. The same text alert sound went off again two minutes later. Then again a minute later. I realized that this person, either illiterate or ignorant, disregarded the signs entirely and decided that knowing they had a new text message by an audible alert was more important than worrying about bothering others around them. I never looked to see who this person was for my back was to the sound, but I found it rather inconsiderate and very annoying. The signs that advise you not to use your cell phone in the Commons are posted on almost every pillar and wall, so there is no excuse.

This inconsiderate lack of e-etiquette isn’t constrained to the college campus, as I’m sure a lot of you have come across in your daily lives. One that surely bothers me has to do with being on the receiving end of rudeness as a customer service representative. I work a cash register at a local food establishment on and off many times throughout a shift. To properly take someone’s order, I’d love to have their undivided attention, and I believe they would like the same in return. I’ve had a few occasions where someone has come into the establishment mid-conversation with someone on their phone, but they would also like to make their order while doing so. They proceed to order in between “uh huh”s and “yeah”s, and when I read back their order they say all is fine till they receive their order and there is a discrepancy. I’m sorry, but I did read the order back to you, you just weren’t exactly all there at the time. You still aren’t since your “uh huh”s and “yeah”s have turned into low grumbles about how the “stupid girl” at the counter got your order wrong. (!!!)

Thankfully I’ve encountered others who also come in while on a call, but either tell their companion on the other end they have to go or to hold on a moment while they place their order and pay. These people, boy, these people I like! If I could give them freebies I would! I’ve seen photos on the Internet of signs placed at cash registers asking customers to finish their conversations before ordering as a sign of respect. I’d love to mention that to my manager for us to put up at our store, but then again people shouldn’t need these signs. It’s common knowledge, common decency… heck, it’s COMMON SENSE!

I have to agree with a wise, modern day sage by the name of Phil DeFranco: common sense is dead.

One response to “e-Etiquette, or lack thereof”

  1. Well the most important aspect for the rudeness when placing an order, is that the conversation they are having with the other person is pretty much always unimportant and pointless. I'm very into technology but I rarely use my phone to talk to people because I get nothing out of a pointless conversion that would be way better to have face to face with them. People are on phones 24-7 now because technology has made it impossible for people to have limited human contact once and a while.

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