Nov 6, 2007

Get educated about wireless etiquette

by Gina Palese

    No set standard for cell phone use exists, and with the increase of people using cell phones, that fact has become more apparent.
    There are times when a person may be sitting in a restaurant for a quiet meal, only to be jolted out of their seat at the shriek of a neighboring person’s cell phone going off.
    Then, while trying to enjoy the dinner and the company of the other people present at the table, the cell phone user continues to chit-chat in a loud
voice, not allowing others to hear themselves think.
    Or perhaps a more familiar and all too prevalent scenario is the more repulsive “bathroom” scene. Often, it seems that whenever a person wishes to use the restroom in peace and quiet, there is always someone else there on the cell phone, having a conversation.     Perhaps, it can be assumed that not only do the other people in the bathroom feel uncomfortable with the person on the cell phone, but most likely the person to whom the cell user is talking also feels uncomfortable.
    From cell phones ringing in class and movie theaters to people talking on them at the cash register, it is generally known that there are plenty of unwritten rules concerning cell phone courtesy.
    So, after searching for answers, some details have been found to help clarify proper etiquette for cell phone use.
    Liberty University senior Ron Gerondale said, “It gets pretty annoying when you see someone answering their cell phone in a restaurant or even in class. It happens.”
    Dr. Randy Pruitt, communications professor at Liberty, says all phones can become an annoyance in many situations, including classrooms or even a lunch outing with his wife.
    Pruitt said, “Sometimes it’s an issue of negligence. People can forget about others, and they focus on the importance of their cell phone, rather than the individual.”
    But are there any real courtesy rules? According to Sprint-Nextel, National Cell Phone Courtesy Month was started in July of 2003.     During July, they launched a cell phone etiquette podcast, teaching loyal cell phone users the proper techniques in cell phone use.
    Included in the podcast were suggestions like putting your phone on vibrate or silence when in quiet areas like a restaurant or the movies.
    Many students at Liberty agree with Sprint. They believe that people need to be courteous of others when using a cell phone.
    When asked about cell phones ringing in class, senior Charity Forystek said, “It is very distracting. You can be in the middle of a thought and your whole concentration is thrown. It’s not that hard just to put your phone on vibrate.”
    In an online Sprint-Nextel statement, spokesperson for Sprint Etiquette Jacqueline Whitmore said, “Our multi-tasking society is busier than ever. Most times people don’t intend to offend. They are just unaware of their surroundings.”
    “The best way to change behavior is to equip consumers with the knowledge they need to balance etiquette with the convenience provided by wireless devices. That’s why Sprint has been a leader in promoting courtesy awareness,” Whitmore said.
    Perhaps the phone should not be the thing to blame, explained Whitmore.
    “I don’t think people are deliberately trying to be offensive. It usually comes down to a lack of awareness of just how intrusive we can become when we’re wrapped up in a phone call and lose track of what’s going on around us.”
    Sprint is working hard to promote the awareness of proper cell phone etiquette. They created eight tips for proper cell phone use. The tips do not encourage people to get rid of their cell phones but instead to become aware of others around them.
    “It’s important to educate people about the proper way to use these devices so that they’re still in touch but not annoying those around them,” said Whitmore.
    For more information on proper cell phone etiquette, visit www.sprint.com/consumerinfo.

Contact Gina Palese at rpalese@liberty.edu.


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