About seven years ago, I spent a few months living in London. While I was there, I purchased a cell phone and used prepaid minutes to communicate with friends and coworkers. But since cell service was expensive at the time, mostly I just texted. That was back when no one in the U.S. had text messaging, and I thought it was great. Why call when you can text? It’s so easy! So quick! So efficient!
A couple of years after I returned to the U.S., text messaging started to catch on here. And now, look at us. We can’t walk down the street, eat or drive without simultaneously typing away on our phones. I recently had to make a rule for myself: No texting while crossing the street, for fear of being hit by a bus. Isn’t that sad?
The more I notice it, the more I think about text etiquette. Recently I ran across a New York Times article, “To Text or Not to Text,” in which the author wonders when texting is appropriate:
“When is it acceptable to send texts and tap out e-mails around other people? Is it O.K. to check and send e-mail during a work meeting? What about at a family dinner? Do those rules vary depending on the age of the people around you?”
I frequently keep my phone on my lap when I’m eating dinner out, but that’s because I have a toddler at home, and I like to be accessible to the babysitter. I’m certainly not typing messages to my friends between courses. But I know plenty of people who do. Sometimes it bothers me, sometimes it doesn’t.
But there has to be a line, doesn’t there? Certainly you wouldn’t whip out your Blackberry and start texting your buddies in the middle of a fancy work dinner (or at least, I hope you wouldn’t), so why is it any different if you’re eating dinner with friends? Or with your spouse or children? When my daughter is old enough to have a cell phone (do I really have to buy her one?) the dinner table will be a phone-free zone.
What’s your call? Is texting other people rude when you’re visiting with someone? At dinner? In a meeting? If so, how do we discourage it?
(Photo from tantek on Flickr.)