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Turn that phone over
January 20, 2012 8:28 AM   Subscribe

You order your food, everyone places their phone on the table face down. The first one to flip over their phone loses the game and pays for everyone's meal, otherwise everyone pays for themselves. Don't be a dick when you're out with friends at a restaurant.
posted by cashman (170 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's not a surprise that incredibly obvious basic etiquette with a new technology lags behind the introduction of that technology into our society. What's surprising is how long that lag time is.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:32 AM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


somewhat related tweet
posted by condour75 at 8:35 AM on January 20, 2012


When people leave their phones on the dinner table and check them frequently, I like to take out my phone and pretend it is taking their phones roughly from behind. I make loud BEEP BOOP noises of electronic ecstasy throughout, with accompanying porntastic dialogue.

Most people I know keep their phones in their pockets when dining with me now.
posted by elizardbits at 8:37 AM on January 20, 2012 [102 favorites]


Almost more annoying is the person who makes a REAL BIG DEAL about someone being on their phone, and then five minutes later they're on their own device.
posted by pwally at 8:38 AM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


If I could, I would put my phone into an industrial blender and be done with it. Buuut, I've gotta drive the car pool and sometimes things go wrong, sooooo ...
posted by zomg at 8:38 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thankfully, no one I dine or hang out with really gives a shit if I'm on my phone or not. If I'm having a good time, I'm off my phone. If not, well, I like being entertained.
posted by josher71 at 8:40 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


There was a time when, whenever you talked about inappropriate cell phone use, some dink would reply, "WHAT IF THAT GUY IS A SURGEON ON CALL".

Since then, there are a whole lot more surgeons on call.
posted by Legomancer at 8:40 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whatever, dude. Sometimes you get a text and your phone is on silent and you have to whip it out to check on whether your mom made it to the airport or your buddy got out of his operation okay or your girlfriend is going to be late to the movie or whatever. Maybe you don't reply right then unless it's critical, but I figure people have about ten or fifteen seconds of checking their phone time before I start silently judging them for being terrible e-leashed zombies or whatever, and I'll expect the same consideration to be shown to me.

I expect a bunch of people in this thread to brag about how they don't have a smartphone or they never ever check it when they're around anyone else for any reason, not even their insufferable mother-in-law, to which I say: 1) Bullshit, and 2) Loudly talking about your lack of a smartphone is the new loudly talking about how you don't have a TV.
posted by pts at 8:43 AM on January 20, 2012 [55 favorites]


If I'm having a good time, I'm off my phone. If not, well, I like being entertained.

If you tell people this before dinner that must make for a rather fraught meal.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:43 AM on January 20, 2012 [16 favorites]


I hate my cell phone but I'm pathologically loath to let it ring/beep/buzz away because I'm With Friends Dammit because the last time I did that I didn't find out until the next afternoon that my grandfather had suffered a stroke.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:44 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's a fine idea and all for most people, but as a cardiothoracic surgeon I'm pretty important, and when my phone goes off I know it's either the hospital, my accountant or my ex-wife.

People don't seem to understand that it's pretty tough to make a living these days. When my wife left me, she took my Porsche AND my Blancpain. I got yelled at-- literally singled out of a crowd when my iPhone went off during a concert a week ago, and while I admit the standard ringtone is pretty dull, Mailer is some dull shit. You one percenters have some seriously bad taste.

So the next time you think someone's being a dick answering their phone during a concert or god forbid fucking DINNER, just remember that it's probably a VERY IMPORTANT CALL for a VERY IMPORTANT PERSON and KRISTA YOU BITCH GIMME BACK MY SHIT.
posted by herrdoktor at 8:45 AM on January 20, 2012 [83 favorites]


I AM A MEDICAL DOCTOR ON CALL AND I NEED TO ANSWER MY PHONE OR SOMEONE COULD DIE*


*not really a doctor
posted by orme at 8:46 AM on January 20, 2012


Is it OK to leave the table and take the call outside?
posted by ymgve at 8:47 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


haha! I was typing that up before you posted, herrdoktor!*


*no offense was intended : )
posted by orme at 8:48 AM on January 20, 2012


My new standard of cool: when I'm hanging out with you, I never see your phone ever ever ever.

Yes. Yes. I will now mentally type 'Yes' 998 more times.
posted by mediareport at 8:49 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


What if the people I'm having dinner with are really boring?
posted by Artw at 8:50 AM on January 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow, so it's come to this? Sad.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:52 AM on January 20, 2012


If you tell people this before dinner that must make for a rather fraught meal.

I don't say and all my friends are "guess culture".
posted by josher71 at 8:52 AM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Loudly talking about your lack of a smartphone is the new loudly talking about how you don't have a TV

seriously? Let me guess, "Loudly talking" means mentioning it at all, right?
posted by ServSci at 8:52 AM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


What if you are loudly talking about your lack of tv on your smart phone?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:55 AM on January 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I only watch TV shows you haven't heard of on my smartphone.
posted by kmz at 8:55 AM on January 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I can't resist reading a text in case it's important. I won't reply unless it's very important. I always apologize for it. But it's stupid to ignore it.
posted by jjmoney at 8:55 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Discretely checking if a text message is important is one matter, but the problem is when people decide that communicating with their mates at the table is a lower priority than diddling with their phone. You don't have to be a stodgy old person* to feel slighted by that behavior.

* but it helps
posted by dgran at 8:59 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Josher, if I was a friend having dinner with you, why on earth would I make any effort to see how you're doing or to talk to you about whatever is going on, when you've decided to make absolutely no effort? Meeting people in person is not like watching TV, they're not there to be your dancing monkeys.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 8:59 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


What if you are loudly talking about your lack of tv on your smart phone?

This only works if you have built your phone yourself out of locally sourced material and your every text is handcrafted by elvish virgins on a mountain in Sicily.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:00 AM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


There are two sides to this. There are appropriate and inappropriate times to use a phone during a meal. And with many meals it would seem very weird for someone to get upset about me using my phone.

If I'm on a lunch break with coworkers and they get upset about me checking email, that is weird.

If the wife and I stop at a taco shop on the way to get some groceries and I get pissed she's posting to Google+, I'm being an asshole.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:00 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I’M TALKING ABOUT 40 MILLION FUCKING DEUTSCH MARKS!!!!

posted by wcfields at 9:01 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) Bullshit

It's "bullshit" that people don't check their cell phones during dinner? That's not even unusual, let alone bullshit. I hardly ever remember to bring my phone with me in the first place though, so maybe it's easier for me that way. Back when cell phones were just coming out, a lot of people thought they were cool but were worried that being reachable at all times could potentially have some negatives. Some of us remembered that, and turn our phones off when we're out at dinner or doing something else that courtesy or necessity dictates should require your full attention.

But it's stupid to ignore it.

it's not stupid to ignore a text for an hour or 2. I don't check my email every 5 minutes.
posted by Hoopo at 9:02 AM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm cooler than you because I have a Jitterbug.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:02 AM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Let me guess, "Loudly talking" means mentioning it at all, right?

I should've said "audibly congratulating yourself for not having" &c.
posted by pts at 9:03 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This isn't a black-and-white thing, any more. Five years ago, you were either the sort of person who diddled your phone, or you weren't. Now there's a big ol' normal* distribution of the amount of diddling that people do.

People at the left tail, the folks who don't diddle at all, they're fine. People above one standard deviation above the mean, they're dicks.

Simple!

* not actually normal
posted by gurple at 9:03 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I am eating with someone, watching a movie in a theatre, or working with a customer in the field, the phone stays in the car.
posted by localroger at 9:07 AM on January 20, 2012


I solve this problem by not having any friends.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:08 AM on January 20, 2012 [35 favorites]


If I'm on a lunch break with coworkers...

If the wife and I stop at a taco shop...

Well yeah, of course if it's someone you're around all the time anyways like your cow orkers or your family that's one thing. I think this is in the context of getting together with people you see at least somewhat infrequently.

My take would be this: if you had a job where you interacted with your company's clients and you were having dinner with a Very Important Client, would you be checking your phone constantly? I wouldn't and it seems to me that if I didn't treat my friends the same way I'd be conveying that they aren't that important.
posted by XMLicious at 9:08 AM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


As most of my friends are parents with teenagers or parents with small babies, I don't mind if they check texts or whatever. Could be the sitter, could be the teenager. "MOM I AM GOING TO KILLER'S HOUSE ON THE BACK OF HIS MOTORCYCLE WITH NO HELMET DON'T WORRY HE GOT CONDOMS IF YOU DON'T TEXT BACK I'LL TAKE THAT AS PERMISSION." But it's sort-of like high school, if you get a note, you have to share with the class, even if it's embarrassing. Most people I go out with keep them in their purses or pockets, and if they lay them on the table they say, "Sorry, I'm waiting for an important call," and then ignore them until they go off.

What I hate is when someone takes a cell call AT THE TABLE. If you have to take a call, which is fine, it's no big thing, YOU HAVE TO LEAVE THE TABLE. You don't get to stand in the middle of the party, or sit there and make all other conversations grind to a halt. You get up and walk yourself towards the quiet periphery of the area, even if the call is so short you'll stop 3/4 of the way and some back. GRRRAAARRRR. SO MANY PEOPLE do this, and there doesn't appear to be any division of age or anything; there is just a subset of humanity who were raised by wolves who take phone calls at the table. I mean, if I'm on a date with my husband and the sitter calls, I get up to go take it in the foyer so not everyone in the restaurant has to listen to me on the phone. Geez.

Question: Do you think it's more okay to play with your phone before the meal arrives? I've noticed that when I meet my girlfriends, there's often a lot of quick texting and e-mailing and messing with apps until the menus arrive, and then phone start going in purses and staying there until the end of the meal. I guess it seems like there's a liminal phase between arrival and meal starting where it's okay to be somewhat splintered and dealing with your technology? But once everyone's there and the meal has BEGUN, people don't do it any more. What do you all think?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:09 AM on January 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


♫ Dt-dt-dt on your mobile phone, dt-dt-dt on your mobile phone ♫

What I sing when someone is being obnoxious.
posted by weinbot at 9:11 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't resist reading a text in case it's important. I won't reply unless it's very important. I always apologize for it. But it's stupid to ignore it.

Technology really is powerful. It's created an emergent framework in which people feel that it's now socially required to be annoying. I'm actually not saying this as a jab at you (although I do think that behavior can be annoying), only how it's interest that ease of access to information within a society creates new levels of expectation regarding what you "need to do" to not be morally remiss just in case that one-in-a-million change of something horrible happening actually does indeed happen.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:11 AM on January 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


I like the idea of the face-down phone game, but with my friends, it would devolve pretty quickly into a meal-long, half-assed game of trying to trick someone else into looking at their phone, so that they have to pay the bill.

Which is to say, we are definitely doing this.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:12 AM on January 20, 2012 [33 favorites]


I guess it seems like there's a liminal phase between arrival and meal starting where it's okay to be somewhat splintered and dealing with your technology? But once everyone's there and the meal has BEGUN, people don't do it any more. What do you all think?

Extended rules/variations here at Lil B's tumblr page.
posted by cashman at 9:14 AM on January 20, 2012


(no not that lil b)
posted by cashman at 9:14 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let me guess, "Loudly talking" means mentioning it at all, right?

It kind of does, if the mentioning is about something you don't have. There's plenty of shit I don't have, but you don't see me coming into conversations to be all like "whatever, I don't even own a yacht." Nobody cares about my lack of yacht, the same number of people care about your lack of smartphone.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:15 AM on January 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


It is like call waiting in person.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:17 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"whatever, I don't even own a yacht."
I use this line all the time, gets me mad props.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:17 AM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, I live in EyebrowsMcGee's world, where all my friends and acquaintances seem to be on the same page with this.

None of them have yachts either.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:19 AM on January 20, 2012


Nobody cares about my lack of yacht, the same number of people care about your lack of smartphone.

I guess it is pretty annoying, you've convinced me - no more talking about stuff I don't have. From now on I'll just talk about all the stuff I'll have when I'm the only person left without brain cancer (god how I hope cell phones cause cancer).
posted by 445supermag at 9:23 AM on January 20, 2012


As someone who DOESN'T HAVE A SMARTPHONE (was that loud enough?) and often forgets to turn his cellphone on during the day I'm simply amazed at the action-packed, knife-edge split-second decision riddled lives so many of you seem to lead. "OMG I must respond to this time-sensitive text within ten seconds or MILLIONS WILL DIE!!!" Are you all leaders of rebel armies directing their activities remotely or something?

Seriously, the number of times per year that you receive an unexpected text or phone call that cannot wait the length of a meal before receiving a response can't possibly need more than the fingers of one hand to enumerate, can it? And the odds that it will be during one of those meals when you're sitting down with friends or family are infinitesimally small. It really is perfectly safe to turn your phone off. Yes "off"--unbeknownst to many, they do actually have "off" switches.

(And do, please, note the word "unexpected" above. Yeah, we all have times when we're "waiting on a phone call" from someone we have to pick up at the airport or whatever. Then it's perfectly o.k. to say to your dining companions: "I'm sorry, but I'm expecting an important call that I'll have to take when it comes" and to leave your phone on.)
posted by yoink at 9:23 AM on January 20, 2012 [17 favorites]


If someone puts their phone facedown on the table during a meal, I spend the entire meal in apoplexy, moving drinks away from it and suggesting frequently that the serve or a distracted companion might spill a drink and really, they should put it in their pocket.

(And if I am attempting to keep my eye/ear/sights on the babysitter/half-dead patient/teenage out with new boyfriend sort of emergency the phone is on vibrate, in my bra. So if it does go off I can excuse myself and go to the washroom or foyer to check it. There's nothing worse than having a meal with someone who can't be bothered to put their stupid phone away and interact with the person in their presence.)
posted by pink candy floss at 9:24 AM on January 20, 2012


I would like to (clumsily) build off of Spaceman's "need to do" idea- we can be told of deaths, trouble such as motorcycling teenagers, troubles with the Form 1060 at 9PM, etc. but just because you did or did not get the text is meaningless- and you are unable to change the outcome. Your loved one still died, had a stroke, etc. How does your finding out an hour or two earlier really change any of that? So sit back and enjoy your meal.
posted by T10B at 9:25 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree that, at this point, there's a normal distribution of behavior from "never check the phone" to "playing Angry Birds at the table."

I used to be a Hall Monitor about phone use, but now I accept that people like to check their text messages/email at the table. That's fine. But I still get extremely irritated when people are composing their magnum opus or playing games or surfing the internet at the table. I don't really say anything anymore, I just quietly fume.

Maybe I should just stop going to meals with those people.
posted by muddgirl at 9:25 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


When people leave their phones on the dinner table and check them frequently, I like to take out my phone and pretend it is taking their phones roughly from behind.

What about tablets, you into that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:25 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


It kind of does, if the mentioning is about something you don't have. There's plenty of shit I don't have, but you don't see me coming into conversations to be all like "whatever, I don't even own a yacht." Nobody cares about my lack of yacht, the same number of people care about your lack of smartphone.

This thread (and your post in particular) kind of disproves your claim.

And of course, if this thread were about, say, the best kind of antifouling to use on your yacht, it would be entirely normal and appropriate for comments to begin "well, I don't own a yacht but..." and no one would get upset about it.
posted by yoink at 9:27 AM on January 20, 2012


Is there a game where everyone else puts discussing sports, asking me computer questions, interrupting me mid-sentence, and feeling the need to dominate all conversation because any period of silence "makes you uncomfortable"?

No? You mean only the extroverted get to define what counts as "polite decorum" in yet ANOTHER social arena?

I'll just hang onto my phone then, thanks.

Fun fact, a friend of mine demanded I play this game with him, because I'm apparently the reason this game exists. I could have fucked with him as I was chilling and he got antsy when his phone rang and couldn't pick it up. Oh sweet ironic justice.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:28 AM on January 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


How does your finding out an hour or two earlier really change any of that?

In my case, I found out when I was 115 miles away from the hospital, instead of 8.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:29 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's not surprising, and therefore not interesting, that you don't own a yacht. It might be interesting that you don't own a car, or some other common item--I find it interesting when I learn that a friend doesn't have a driver's license, for instance.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:35 AM on January 20, 2012


What do you all think?

I think that everyone can take their cell phones and stick them up their ass when they are at dinner with me. For fuck sake, people aren't having constant emergencies. How the fuck did we go from not having cell phones to not being able to disconnect from a cell phone in 25 years?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:36 AM on January 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


There's the "Hey I have to check my phone for a few seconds and then resume conversation" move. That is okay. That is a natural consequence of constant connectivity and highly reliable networks. Some people are on call, some people like to work. People are doing things. It's foolish not to understand and accept this.

But, there's also the "I am on my phone for literally the whole time constantly checking twitter and having 3 IM sessions" move. Which is a dick move! It's a thing that assholes do. Worse, more often then not these assholes are your friends, sometimes your close friends, and they are doing it not because they are bad people but because they just got smart phones and data plans and HEY LOOK AT THIS APP ISN'T IT AWESOME YOUTUBE LOLCATS INSTAGRAM HEY EVERYBODY FOURSQUARE LATITUDE GPS MAPS FACEBOOK LOOK LOOK LOOK. They have yet to realize that nobody gives a shit, which is a process that may take years.

I agree with the comment that it's an etiquette lag time issue. People who aren't used to, I guess it's called internet culture, they tend not to realize what they are doing. People who are natives have already worked this shit out and are hyper aware of the problem. As smartphone adoption increases, it is probably going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Personally, I solve this problem straight up. "Hey friend, you are being an asshole right now. Don't be an asshole." That usually works.
posted by tracert at 9:38 AM on January 20, 2012


I spent half my last outing with friends on my phone looking up comic book movies and Star Wars trivia on Wikipedia. How are you supposed to have a thoughtful discussion on three-act structure, the monomyth, and Joss Whedon's potential ability to save the Avengers, if you're limited to "remember that one thing that came out like ten years ago with that guy in it, didn't it have something like that?"

...other people may possibly have less involved social conversations than me.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:40 AM on January 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


Has anyone made an app for this game yet? 99c a phone, lets say 4 phones a table... it's a winner!
posted by Artw at 9:42 AM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I only sit and use my smartphone in the same circumstances it's appropriate to read a newspaper - i.e. breakfast with my wife and tea break in the staff room or riding a train - usually because I'm actually reading something.

I do have a distinct sound for text messages though - only a handful of people have my personal mobile number (I mostly communicate via landline, email or im), so odds are if I get a text it's something important from family, or my boss wants something and will get pissed if I don't answer, and I will take a couple of seconds to check it. Who sits and takes/makes phone calls at the table though? That's seriously rude. Least you can do is apologise and step outside etc.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:43 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


...other people may possibly have less involved social conversations than me.

You're talking about the active use of cell phones as an aid to conversation, in which everyone's a willing participant. You may, specifically, be talking about just you being Captain Information for a conversation in which everyone else is (you believe, at least) happy to have Captain Information around.

There's nothing wrong with any of that. That's not what this thread is about.
posted by gurple at 9:45 AM on January 20, 2012


When people leave their phones on the dinner table and check them frequently, I like to take out my phone and pretend it is taking their phones roughly from behind. I make loud BEEP BOOP noises of electronic ecstasy throughout, with accompanying porntastic dialogue.


Now that's what I call jailbreaking a phone.
posted by Kabanos at 9:48 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


> There's nothing worse than having a meal with someone who can't be bothered to put their stupid phone away and interact with the person in their presence.

This is not true. It is an annoyance. My N-4th blind date from somebody I "met" on the OKCupid decided to start using her phone after we had ordered at a restaurant. I excused myself (she probably didn't even notice) and decided I wasn't all that hungry or interested and just left. I have no idea what happened after. Maybe there was some scene with the staff when they brought food and they wanted her to pay for it. Whatever.

In Game Theory this is called the Tit for Tat strategy. Theoretically it works great but I don't recommend dating people who corner you into using Game Theory strategies.
posted by bukvich at 9:49 AM on January 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


I spent half my last outing with friends on my phone looking up comic book movies and Star Wars trivia on Wikipedia. How are you supposed to have a thoughtful discussion on three-act structure, the monomyth, and Joss Whedon's potential ability to save the Avengers, if you're limited to "remember that one thing that came out like ten years ago with that guy in it, didn't it have something like that?"

...other people may possibly have less involved social conversations than me.


"Hey, let's look that up" is a collective, social act that enhances the group dynamic. That's not remotely what anyone in this thread is complaining about. "Excuse me while I opt out of the conversation we're having and have an unrelated private conversation" is the problematic act.

For fuck sake, people aren't having constant emergencies. How the fuck did we go from not having cell phones to not being able to disconnect from a cell phone in 25 years?

What I find funny is that 25 years ago, when cell phones were something only wealthy businesspeople had, the universal opinion held by everyone who didn't own one was that anyone who did was a dickhead. In particular if you saw people in a restaurant with their cellphones clustered in the middle of the table (they were too big, of course, to easily sit in a pocket) there would be a universal rolling of eyes at the crassness of it. In this case, though, it appeared that most of that disdain was just displaced envy.
posted by yoink at 9:50 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I disagree that pervasive computing has made us less able to pay attention to
posted by clvrmnky at 9:53 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Douglas Adams was so right it almost causes me physical pain..
posted by Sphinx at 9:54 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


WHAT IF THAT GUY IS A SURGEON ON CALL

Then he can afford to pick up the check.
posted by straight at 9:54 AM on January 20, 2012 [22 favorites]


I don't give a fuck what anyone I'm with does with their phone, either because they are someone I like and care about, so it's cool, or because they are someone I don't like and care about, so it's cool. I actually think it's great if someone I don't care about is being a dick with their phone, as it makes me look better in a badly needed way.
posted by howfar at 9:54 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Douglas Adams was so right it almost causes me physical pain..

Yeah, I get so sick of people constantly pushing the button to see the time on their digital watches. Whenever I see someone do that, I start ostentatiously pretending to push buttons on my (analogue - duh) watch and making "BEEP BEEP BIP BOOP" sounds.
posted by straight at 9:56 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


In Game Theory this is called the Tit for Tat strategy.

In tattoo parlors Tit for Tat describes one kind of tattoo.
posted by kmz at 10:01 AM on January 20, 2012


At least in my circles, with business associates, friends and family, it's perfectly acceptable to say "Excuse me," and quickly check a text, or see who an incoming call is from (at which point you either send it to voicemail, or politely excuse yourself from the table and take it outside.) This applies to lunch at Taco Bell, as well as black tie dinners.

Especially during working hours, even though I may be taking a client or a prospective client out for lunch, we all realize that business doesn't only take place when it's convenient for us. That call may be a client wanting to move on a big deal now, or it may be a family member calling to say your grandfather is in the hospital, get your ass over here right now. Both have happened to me, and I'm glad I took the calls both times.

As long as you're polite about it, I don't see it as a problem. Say "Excuse me," if you're in the middle of a conversation and you need to check an incoming text or call, and politely excuse yourself from the table and go outside if you really must take the call.

Playing Angry Birds or spamming your Facebook, however, instead of interacting with the other people at the table? That's pretty rude. The people are there with you because they want to enjoy each other's company (and yours). Tuning them out to play around on your phone is pretty dickish.
posted by xedrik at 10:03 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Someone should really create an app for this.
posted by Fizz at 10:05 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's all moot if, at the end of the meal, everyone ends up doing this. (I think Chase is vying with AT&T for the title of "most loathsome people in a series of commercials".)
posted by kurumi at 10:09 AM on January 20, 2012


I work in disaster management and I am constantly on call (and I don't always hear my phone) so I will often put my phone face-down on the table just in case I need to deal with something. That said, if a disaster happens someone is going to PHONE me, not TEXT me, so a) I ignore texts, b) if a call comes I only answer it if it is work-related, and c) if I have to take a call I apologize and leave the table. I figure those are reasonable compromises.

I don't mind when other people discretely check their texts, or take a call during dinner (as long as they leave the table). We all have stuff going on in our lives. What I do mind is people who Facebook, play games, look up movie listings, or regale the table with the contents of their Twitter feed. That shit makes me livid.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:10 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


In tattoo parlors Tit for Tat describes one kind of tattoo.

Wouldn't that be Tat for Tit?
posted by yoink at 10:13 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd think the other way around is how you pay for your tattoo.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:17 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love it when people I'm eating lunch with talk on their phones because it means they aren't talking to me which I love because I hate eating lunch with people.
posted by notmydesk at 10:17 AM on January 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't like to be "on call" at low latency. I don't like to be on call for work (although it happens and there are periods when any BB mail must be read immediately), and I don't like to be on call for my friends, or my family, or my girlfriend (although she doesn't particularly sympathize with this view). Some people in this thread are saying they have to check their phone at dinner because there might be an important text. I don't really sympathize. In the event of a real emergency, someone can call twice or whatever; otherwise it can wait an hour till I'm done with dinner and there's no interruption.

I understand that not everyone's life works this way. But wouldn't it be better if it did? Do you really want to be on call?
posted by grobstein at 10:20 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


> And if I am attempting to keep my eye/ear/sights on the babysitter/half-dead patient/teenage out with new boyfriend sort of emergency the phone is on vibrate, in my bra

Am I the only person reading this thread who raised an eyebrow and then shoved her phone into her upper unmentionables, just out of curiousity? (We are built very differently, I think, or else you have a much smaller phone than I do.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:27 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


My wife and I go out to dinner and talk about movies, Skyrim, tech, whatever, and then when we need to find out what movies that one guy was in we have a race to see who can look it up the fastest. I can type faster, but she just got the Siri, so I always lose now. DAMN YOU, SIRI!
posted by Huck500 at 10:28 AM on January 20, 2012


Maybe this is in part a regional thing? I'm not a surgeon, but I receive loads of very time-sensitive texts when I'm out with friends.

Frequently, I'm waiting for Mr. Narrative to get out of the subway and ask me if I'm still at the restaurant. Or PTS just finished with practice and wants to know where we ended up going for dinner. Or a friend unexpectedly got out of work early and wants to know if I'm in the city and want to meet up later.

For me, low-level phone use often helps me spend MORE quality time with people, not less.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:29 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I have small boobs but often use my bra as iphone storage, particularly at parties. It's a friction thing, mostly.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:31 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I keep my cellphone within reach at all times, even by the bath or next to me in bed. Because people die all the time and I am always on call.
posted by ColdChef at 10:42 AM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


understand that not everyone's life works this way. But wouldn't it be better if it did? Do you really want to be on call?

Feel free to convince my boss that I'm not expected to be on unpaid call 24/7 365, as I've not been able to. And no, nobody is hiring sysadmins in my area.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:43 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Attempting it with my iPhone I have a choice between uniboob or my phone sticking out over my shirt's neckline, either of which seems more distracting than leaving the phone on the table.

I should probably point out that I'm home, not in an office.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:46 AM on January 20, 2012


♫ Dt-dt-dt on your mobile phone, dt-dt-dt on your mobile phone ♫

What I sing when someone is being obnoxious.


Miss Manners says the only thing more rude than a transgression of etiquette, is calling attention to other peoples' transgressions of etiquette. Etiquette is not a game where points are scored to see who is the better person. Etiquette is a set of behaviors that are intended to smooth social relations.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:50 AM on January 20, 2012 [21 favorites]


I have my phone on the table because I have cool stuff on my phone. If you keep my attention I'll ignore the phone. If you bore me, rest assured, this is the last time you'll be dining with my phone or me.

Deal with it.
posted by Splunge at 11:03 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Douglas Adams was so right it almost causes me physical pain

Are you thinking of how he predicted that iPhones would be the size of a paperback novel and have screens with 4 x 3 aspect ratios? Or that Wikipedia would need to hire freelancers to go to Star Trek conventions and write articles about it, only to edit the entire Wikipedia entry for Star Trek down to two words ("Mostly Nerds") to save space?
posted by straight at 11:05 AM on January 20, 2012


Splunge if your life is so damn engaging what the fuck are you doing reading metafilter?
posted by bukvich at 11:08 AM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


There was also a time, I believe, when people didn't respond to criticisms of anti-social behavior with, "FUCK YOU I AM A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE DEAL WITH IT Y U MAD BRO"
posted by Legomancer at 11:10 AM on January 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


> And if I am attempting to keep my eye/ear/sights on the babysitter/half-dead patient/teenage out with new boyfriend sort of emergency the phone is on vibrate, in my bra

Am I the only person reading this thread who raised an eyebrow and then shoved her phone into her upper unmentionables, just out of curiousity?
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:27 PM on January 20


Try putting it sort of above one breast, where the cup part of your bra starts, so the bottom half of the phone is in the cup and the top half is behind the strap. It stays by friction.
posted by joannemerriam at 11:11 AM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


...other people may possibly have less involved social conversations than me.

Or more.
posted by Legomancer at 11:20 AM on January 20, 2012


Or a friend unexpectedly got out of work early and wants to know if I'm in the city and want to meet up later.

For me, low-level phone use often helps me spend MORE quality time with people, not less.


Except that answering call one while you were dining with another friend degraded the quality of that experience for that friend. And it's incredibly unlikely that you couldn't simply reply to a message after the meal in order to meet up with the friend who got out from work.

Again, if you're a group of friends who have all arranged to call each other in order to meet up, that's a different thing entirely. But if it's just "any one of my friends might, perhaps, on the off chance, want to call me to arrange a later meeting" then let the phone take a message and call them back later. In the meantime, actually experience the present moment.

I suspect that I'm simply on the losing end of this battle, mind you. Younger people live so completely in the mediated space of phone/text/tweet/etc. that the very notion of putting that away and actually giving your undivided attention to another human being is weird and alienating to them. I'm always amazed when I go to a concert where the audience is predominantly young people how few of them treat the experience as a chance for that kind of transcendent experience of being completely lost in the moment that, for my generation, was really the ultimate goal of the concert experience. They're never simply listening to the music--they're taking videos and sending them to friends and then they're updating their Facebook pages and then they're responding to a Tweet their friend sent about how jealous they are that they're not at the concert too and then they're scrolling through their texts to see if they've missed anything and then--oh, hey, that song I really like just ended--clap clap clap--oh, I think I'll take another video...

I often wonder if they get confused about which concerts they actually saw and which they just got a lot of video updates from their friends about.
posted by yoink at 11:21 AM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's not surprising, and therefore not interesting, that you don't own a yacht. It might be interesting that you don't own a car, or some other common item--I find it interesting when I learn that a friend doesn't have a driver's license, for instance.

Obviously I chose yacht to be silly more than anything else, but I think the point stands. I have friends without driver's licenses, and I still don't care; talking to them about driver's licenses is the last thing I want to do. If your thoughts on not having a driver's license, smartphone, or television are anyhing other than "yeah, I just don't have one" then you're almost certainly about to be preachy and annoying and that is the worst. If your comment is just "I don't have one" it's boring; there's no useful or interesting conversation to be had about any of it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:24 AM on January 20, 2012


I went out and bought myself an analog wrist watch prior to my first date with my now girlfriend. I found if I needed to know what time it was and I looked at my phone, I'd get distracted by status updates, new txt's, and so on. A watch provides me with the time and nothing else.

And of course, I remember when looking at a watch during a date was a social taboo, and now it is considerate compared to the option of looking at ones phone.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:26 AM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


The other side of this is that people can't get pissy at you for not responding immediately to every fucking phone call or message.

OK?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:27 AM on January 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


I remember when looking at a watch during a date was a social taboo

I'd say it still is, without a valid reason (e.g. you have tickets for a show).
posted by mrgrimm at 11:28 AM on January 20, 2012


Almost more annoying is the person who makes a REAL BIG DEAL about someone being on their phone, and then five minutes later they're on their own device.

"Is that anyone's dog!?!?"
posted by mrgrimm at 11:29 AM on January 20, 2012


> I'd say it still is, without a valid reason

It is, but it pales in comparison to the new social disruptions of checking phones, tweeting, emailing and so on.

And as you said, if your date involves time sensitive things, then looking at a watch is ok, and it much less distracting than looking at a phone. And it doesn't cause the chain reaction of "they looked at his phone, I'll look at my phone" that suddenly happens in the middle of a dinner.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:37 AM on January 20, 2012


It is, but it pales in comparison to the new social disruptions of checking phones, tweeting, emailing and so on.

There's probably a point here with regard to dates, but I don't see how people checking their phone is a "social disruption" if there's more than two people in a group. If I'm out to dinner with my three or four people, any one of them can stop and check their email or play Angry Birds or whatever, and there's still people for me to interact with. It's no more a disruption than going to the bathroom or the bar.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:40 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I suspect that I'm simply on the losing end of this battle, mind you. Younger people live so completely in the mediated space of phone/text/tweet/etc. that the very notion of putting that away and actually giving your undivided attention to another human being is weird and alienating to them.

I remember when I was a kid back in the 1970s, working retail in my dad's florist shop and greenhouse. Most of the direct sales came in by phone, people would send flowers worldwide by ordering locally. He instructed all his employees on phone etiquette. He said that if you were working with a customer and the phone rang, you always answer the phone. A customer that came into the shop had made an effort to get there, and would rarely leave in a huff if you dealt with the incoming call briefly and efficiently. But if you didn't answer the phone, the customer was definitely lost, they would not call back. Employees were hesitant to do this, they thought it was rude, but it did work. Most customers were understanding of our situation, since we were trying to help everyone.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:43 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: there to be your dancing monkeys.
posted by herbplarfegan at 11:46 AM on January 20, 2012


bukvich: "My N-4th blind date from somebody I "met" on the OKCupid decided to start using her phone after we had ordered at a restaurant. I excused myself (she probably didn't even notice) and decided I wasn't all that hungry or interested and just left."

The wonderful thing is, you both dodged a bullet that night.
posted by danny the boy at 11:48 AM on January 20, 2012 [16 favorites]


If I'm out to dinner with my three or four people, any one of them can stop and check their email or play Angry Birds or whatever, and there's still people for me to interact with. It's no more a disruption than going to the bathroom or the bar.

Really? Playing games on your phone in a social situation is cool? If I'm out for dinner with you, and you start playing a fucking game, I don't care that I'm still able to talk to Johnny. You're being a dick.

Checking the odd text or email is one thing, blatantly opting out of the social occasion by playing a game (because we're too boring?) is something else and it's incredibly rude.
posted by asnider at 11:49 AM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Again, if you're a group of friends who have all arranged to call each other in order to meet up, that's a different thing entirely. But if it's just "any one of my friends might, perhaps, on the off chance, want to call me to arrange a later meeting" then let the phone take a message and call them back later. In the meantime, actually experience the present moment.

That text is part of the present moment, too. Depending on the people who you know, "Wanna get beers in an hour?" is a pretty run-of-the-mill way to arrange a meetup. It'd be one thing if people just didn't do that, then sure, the chances of missing out on something are slim enough to warrant putting the phone away. But people set up quick things via text/email all the time. I shouldn't have to miss out on things happening in the very near future because you don't value the way in which phones are useful.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:54 AM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Really? Playing games on your phone in a social situation is cool? If I'm out for dinner with you, and you start playing a fucking game, I don't care that I'm still able to talk to Johnny. You're being a dick.

Checking the odd text or email is one thing, blatantly opting out of the social occasion by playing a game (because we're too boring?) is something else and it's incredibly rude.


I didn't say it wasn't rude, I said it wasn't disruptive; there's a big difference. I might be being a dick, but I'm not interfering with anything; it's just like I'm not there. I also don't see the point in getting het up about people being "rude" in a completely passive manner, but my comment was in response to the person who said it was disruptive.

I don't play games when I'm out with people, but I do use my phone for fairly long periods of time(a couple minutes), if the conversation is one they want to have that I don't care about it; it seems ruder to me to hijack the conversation to be about something I want to talk about. In the past, I would "opt out of the social occasion" by staring off into space, which I'm guessing most everyone here does and no one gives a damn about.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:00 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless it's a group of like 20 people, then one person playing on their phone is absolutely disruptive. If you don't want to be engaged with the group you're with, then please leave.

it's just like I'm not there.

Except you are there, and you are sending the message, "You guys are boring."

by staring off into space, which I'm guessing most everyone here does and no one gives a damn about.

Actually, when people are having a conversation I'm not interested in, I sit politely and listen, because that's why I'm with that group of people. And I say this as an extreme introvert.
posted by muddgirl at 12:05 PM on January 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


How is whipping out your iPhone and playing a game of Angry Birds or checking Facebook at the dinner table with friends any different from pulling a book out of your bag and deciding to have a read in the same situation? I'm guessing that most of the people who think it's okay to do the former would still be insulted by the latter.
posted by slkinsey at 12:06 PM on January 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


> In the past, I would "opt out of the social occasion" by staring off into space, which I'm guessing most everyone here does and no one gives a damn about.

In my experience people do give a damn about this. If you listen to people and pay attention to them it makes it easier for them. If you ignore them it makes it harder for them. Life is challenging enough as it is and making things hard for people is not only socially rude, it is unkind.
posted by bukvich at 12:09 PM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


How is whipping out your iPhone and playing a game of Angry Birds or checking Facebook at the dinner table with friends any different from pulling a book out of your bag and deciding to have a read in the same situation?

You're right, it's not any different, which is why it's generally considered rude to whip out a book when you are out to dinner with a group of supposed friends.
posted by muddgirl at 12:11 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


by staring off into space, which I'm guessing most everyone here does and no one gives a damn about

Staring off into space and looking visibly bored with the company and/or conversation is also a major social faux pas. It's the kind of behavior one expects to have to teach a 7 year old not to do, but not something that's socially acceptable from an adult in polite company.

It's frankly shocking to me that there are grown people who don't understand this. You know what? Not everyone is going to find everything you have to say enthralling. Not everyone is going to like your haircut. And vice-versa, of course. I'm guessing most people appreciate that it's not okay to say to a friend, "I don't like your haircut. It makes you look boring." Well guess what you're doing if you start to twirl your hair and stair into space, or start fiddling around with your smartphone in the middle of a social interaction? You're very effectively telling that person, "I don't like your company right now. You're too boring to occupy my attention."
posted by slkinsey at 12:13 PM on January 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


Narrative Priorities: Frequently, I'm waiting for Mr. Narrative to get out of the subway and ask me if I'm still at the restaurant. Or PTS just finished with practice and wants to know where we ended up going for dinner. Or a friend unexpectedly got out of work early and wants to know if I'm in the city and want to meet up later.

For me, low-level phone use often helps me spend MORE quality time with people, not less.


ditto. I read this kind of thread for entertainment, but I never understand getting pissed about phone usage. I guess I only dine out with people whom I trust to determine whether something is worth pawing their phone over; it never enters my mind to be spend energy being cynical about that and psycho-analyzing their motives-- Jesus, I'm trying to have a good time. I take someone getting on their phone to indicate that their are doing the kinds of things that Narrative Priorities mentions above, and I have a nice gulp of my IPA in silence. What the fuck is so hard about doing that? #shrug
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:15 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Except you are there, and you are sending the message, "You guys are boring."

No, I send the message "I find this conversation boring at the current moment" which is cool, plenty of people are bored by stuff I find interesting. I spend a fair bit of time with a group that includes my wife, our roommate, and my brother-in-law. The three of us who aren't my wife like to talk about sports, sometimes sports comes up when we're out together and we talk about it for a brief while. Now my wife doesn't have a smartphone, but if she did and she wanted to check Metafilter during that time, why would I care? She's not passing a judgment on me as a human being, she's saying that she doesn't care about sports. As long as we come back to a topic she does find interesting at some point, I don't see any reason why either party would care.

Actually, when people are having a conversation I'm not interested in, I sit politely and listen, because that's why I'm with that group of people. And I say this as an extreme introvert.

Well, I guess I can only speak for myself, but if I'm having a conversation that doesn't interest you, I just don't care if you sit and listen; if you want to listen go ahead, but I don't feel any social need to bore other people because it's "polite."

In my experience people do give a damn about this. If you listen to people and pay attention to them it makes it easier for them. If you ignore them it makes it harder for them. Life is challenging enough as it is and making things hard for people is not only socially rude, it is unkind.

Right, imposing asinine rules on people who don't want to follow them certainly makes life easier for everyone.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:16 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretend your phone is a leash. If you have to answer when it rings, then you're the dog.
posted by w.fugawe at 12:16 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't have a cellphone, so I think I'd do pretty well at this.

One day, people will understand why it's just fucking rude to use a cellphone when you're in company. It appears that day is some way off yet. Still, I must admit I will be strangely sad when people finally get that it's also fucking rude to walk along a busy street looking at your phone instead of where you're going. Because on that day I will lose one of my favourite pastimes, which is refusing to step out of the way of the ignorant motherfuckers and giving them full shoulder as I pass. Deep joy.
posted by Decani at 12:19 PM on January 20, 2012


The thing about social norms is that they are context-dependent.
What is appropriate when having drinks with some techhead friends would not be appropriate when having High Tee with the Queen.

If I am having dinner with another couple, I would absolutely be taken aback if a phone was taken out and a text or Twitter feed updated.
But when I had dinner at the bar last night with 6 sysadmin/programmer types, 3 of whom were talking politics while the others talked about xscreensaver, then taking out a phone and checking the latest flood update is not at all a breach of etiquette.
posted by madajb at 12:23 PM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


(A smarter phone would have corrected that typo)
posted by madajb at 12:25 PM on January 20, 2012


I spend a fair bit of time with a group that includes my wife, our roommate, and my brother-in-law.

It's been mentioned several times that ettiquette is situational and contextual. In this sort of situation I would probably use my phone because I see these people every day. But if I am with friends who I only see once a year? Or my boss and his wife?

What if you knew that your brother-in-law was pretty bothered by such behavior? Would you still resort to it, politeness be damned?

but I don't feel any social need to bore other people because it's "polite."

Well, boring people is actually really impolite as well. People should be monitoring their friends for signs of boredom and changing topics as needed - I know my friends would be very bored by a prolongued conversation about sports, so I keep them brief. But answering one rudeness with another is kind of an 'eye for an eye' situation.

Right, imposing asinine rules on people who don't want to follow them certainly makes life easier for everyone.

It's not a 'rule' - clearly some people are bothered by it and some people aren't. If you're with people who aren't bothered by it, then do as you like. If you're with people who are bothered by it, why would you want to increase their irritation?
posted by muddgirl at 12:26 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Checking the odd text or email is one thing, blatantly opting out of the social occasion by playing a game (because we're too boring?) is something else and it's incredibly rude.

Agreed. I have a poker friend who always starts playing Scrabble on his phone after he folds. WTF? (That's not really as bad as in a normal social group, because you're out of action, but still, kinda rude.)

In a normal social group, where people are just socializing and not engaging in an activity where someone might be "out" for a little while, yes, it's incredibly rude to pull out your phone and start using it for longer than a glance at the time.

But when I had dinner at the bar last night with 6 sysadmin/programmer types, 3 of whom were talking politics while the others talked about xscreensaver, then taking out a phone and checking the latest flood update is not at all a breach of etiquette.

Absolutely. If you're out to dinner with a group of good friends, it's rude. If you're out for drinks after works with coworkers, it's not (depending on actual usage.)

In the past, I would "opt out of the social occasion" by staring off into space, which I'm guessing most everyone here does and no one gives a damn about.

No, that's rude too. or what a bunch of people (muddgirl best) already said.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:36 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's been mentioned several times that ettiquette is situational and contextual. In this sort of situation I would probably use my phone because I see these people every day. But if I am with friends who I only see once a year? Or my boss and his wife?

What if you knew that your brother-in-law was pretty bothered by such behavior? Would you still resort to it, politeness be damned?


See, that's not the argument that some people are making in this thread; plenty of people are arguing that it's per se impolite to check your phone when you are "out with people." I don't think that's true, and it sounds like maybe you don't either.

Well, boring people is actually really impolite as well. People should be monitoring their friends for signs of boredom and changing topics as needed - I know my friends would be very bored by a prolongued conversation about sports, so I keep them brief. But answering one rudeness with another is kind of an 'eye for an eye' situation.

I've already got one job, I don't really need my social interactions with my friends to be another one. Like a lot of life's problems, this seems like it's best solved by relaxing and not caring as much about what people do with themselves. Have the conversations you want to have, ignore the ones you don't, and if you'd like to change the conversation change it. Stop caring about whether or not other people are rude, there's just no reason to worry about it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:38 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


plenty of people are arguing that it's per se impolite to check your phone when you are "out with people." I don't think that's true, and it sounds like maybe you don't either.

I do think it's impolite per se for me to check my phone when I am out with "other people." In some situations it is a rudeness that is overlooked due to familiarity.

Stop caring about whether or not other people are rude, there's just no reason to worry about it.

It's not about caring if other people are being rude - it's about caring if I am being rude.

Yes, if one doesn't give a shit about other people, then there's no reason to monitor one's own behavior.
posted by muddgirl at 12:41 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not about caring if other people are being rude - it's about caring if I am being rude.

Oh come off it, this thread has been almost exclusively about other people's behavior. People aren't coming in and say "god, I've been so rude, I need to stop." They're coming in to complain about other people being rude to them. And suggesting that I don't give a shit about other people because I don't feel a knee jerk need to be offended by their behavior? Well, that's pretty fucking rude of you.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:45 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had no idea before reading this thread that there was such an onus among friends to be so entertaining all the time. They should make an app that helps with that.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:51 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Agreed. I have a poker friend who always starts playing Scrabble on his phone after he folds. WTF?

I think I just figured it out. For a lot of people, real life has simply become an extension of the multitasking that they do with technology. Instead of us absorbing technology into the real world and defining its boundaries, technology is absorbing the real world into the benefits that it provides. That poker game might as well be a game running on the third monitor that is waiting for everyone to log in and press the "bet" key. It's the Tron effect, except that it takes place in our world instead.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:53 PM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


it's not stupid to ignore a text for an hour or 2. I don't check my email every 5 minutes.

My parents used to say "regular mail only comes once a day, why do you have to check your email more than once?"


As far as dinner + phones go, my wife and I regularly get into discussions that necessitate looking stuff up on Wikipedia. Otherwise I'm not that much of a talker, and if I'm not messing with my phone I will probably be awkwardly staring off into space.
posted by Foosnark at 12:56 PM on January 20, 2012


In one sense we can see the cell phone as a technological crunch which permits the socially inept to go out and about to places which they would have found so frightful in days past that they would have stayed home.

Not all of you but that interpretation of the data is wide open.
posted by bukvich at 1:02 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Attempting it with my iPhone I have a choice between uniboob or my phone sticking out over my shirt's neckline, either of which seems more distracting than leaving the phone on the table.

I should probably point out that I'm home, not in an office.

posted by The corpse in the library at 10:46 AM

One side becomes rectangular. It's a good conversation starter for people who are on their phones!
posted by pink candy floss at 1:08 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: You guys are boring.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:14 PM on January 20, 2012


bukvich: "Splunge if your life is so damn engaging what the fuck are you doing reading metafilter?"

I'm here for the personal attacks. How about you?
posted by Splunge at 1:41 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right, imposing asinine rules on people who don't want to follow them certainly makes life easier for everyone.

Are you even listening to yourself right now?
posted by Hoopo at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2012


I think all this special socialising you guys do must be like this "dating" I hear so much about but nobody seems to do in the real world. If being with other people has actually become largely an activity in itself, industrialisation has already created bigger social problems than smartphones ever will.
posted by howfar at 1:53 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If being with other people has actually become largely an activity in itself, industrialisation has already created bigger social problems than smartphones ever will.

I'm really struggling to figure this one out. People have regarded "getting together for social occasions" to be "an activity in itself" long before there was ever such a word as "industrialization." And I'd guess that for most of that time fiddling with something that by its very nature excluded you from the natural flow of the group conversation/activity was regarded as rude.
posted by yoink at 2:26 PM on January 20, 2012


"Thrag, put those rocks down THIS MINUTE and tell us all about what you learned in throwing-rocks-at-mammoths class today."
posted by yoink at 2:27 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If lots and lots of people think something you're doing is rude, it might be that you are being rude. Maybe you don't care if you're rude, but you should, at least, be aware that some folks (at least some of whom are rational, deep-thinking people whose opinions you can trust) think you're a jerk.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:36 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


yeah but rudeness is an asinine concept imposed on people who don't want to be constrained by your silly "politeness" anyway, and people who want me to be polite are trying to steal my freedom, and I don't care if you think I'm a jerk, stop boring me grandpa OCCUPY SMARTPHONE
posted by Hoopo at 2:47 PM on January 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


yoink, I was hinting at a Marxist interpretation of this as essentially a social question caused by advanced capitalism and the accompanying alienation that exists in the urban proletariat. I'm not harking back to a Rousseau like romanticism imagining man in his joyful state of nature, but capitalism, for good or ill, has created a majority in the industrialised world who must divide their lives into "work time" and "leisure time" in a historically unprecedented way. Arguing about the etiquette of smartphone use is just the latest manifestation of the consequences of this historical process.

However, from my personal experience, I would argue that it is possible to overstate this broader trend and its individual consequences, either through too doctrinaire vulgar-Marxism, or through getting into a heated debate about smartphones on Metafilter.

I was trying to do it without being either obscure or pompous. I have now failed on both counts. I hang my head.
posted by howfar at 3:03 PM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think the quick check is fine. Here's a rather extreme case: on Tuesday, my family were in a conference with a doctor about whether to treat my father's illness aggressively or to switch to palliative care. During that half-hour or so, the doctor's cell phone must have gone off 5 or 10 times, and he quickly checked it each time; he only answered once and told the person he'd call them back. I was annoyed at the interruption, sure, but saw the necessity of it and appreciated that he handled it as well as he could (and was glad, once again, that I'm not important enough to have every activity interrupted like that).

On the other hand, I was at dinner in a restaurant the other day and noticed a couple at the table next to us. The man had half turned away from his wife and was shooting the shit on the phone with somebody. The woman was looking down at her dinner and quietly eating it. It amazed me how badly I felt for her. The phone conversation went on and on and it was so obvious to me (and to her) that she just wasn't as important as that stupid call. What a slap in the face to someone you're supposed to love.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:31 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


no, no, howfar. i think i (mostly) got it, so hang your head a little higher.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:33 PM on January 20, 2012


WorkingMyWayHome I read a post just the other day (it may have been a link from metafilter) which was an obituary for a medical school instructor written by one of his students. The poster said the most important lesson they ever received in medical school was from the subject of this obituary. He told the classroom full of students when delivering the ultimate bad news to patients' families it was of the utmost importance that your cell phone was off and that you give them your undivided attention. I would link to it if I could remember where it was.
posted by bukvich at 3:41 PM on January 20, 2012


"yoink, I was hinting at a Marxist interpretation of this as essentially a social question caused by advanced capitalism and the accompanying alienation that exists in the urban proletariat."

This is just precious, I plan to read it and savor it many times. Forgive me for hitting the Favorite button HARD.
posted by HopperFan at 6:40 PM on January 20, 2012


If I’m talking to you, much less having dinner, and you use your phone then I will think less of you. I won’t confront you, or stop being friends, but I will lose some respect. Some of my friends will check a call, excuse themselves to take it (must leave the table or area), and apologize afterwards. I can live with this, but I will rarely do it myself. If you take calls or texts regularly you’re just not someone I need to be around.

People who can’t leave their phones alone are shallow, immature, and need to be constantly distracted. Oh, and really into making excuses and being indignant.
posted by bongo_x at 6:42 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


bongo x, you and I have the same friends. No, that's not quite correct--we're not friends with the same people.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:55 PM on January 20, 2012


Don't get me wrong, my cell phone is an electronic pacifier when I'm alone and bored and not near a book or a computer...I understand the attraction. But recently I've noticed a huge uptick in people that constantly check their phones because of facebook or twitter or g+ or whatever. I recently hosted a 'girl's night" at my house, and while I was making dinner, instead of people hanging out in the kitchen talking to me, they got on their phones. It hurt my feelings, I felt like I was being treated like a domestic, rather than creating a meal for friends. The same thing happened when it was time to clean up, which is when I decided I would not be having any more girls nights with that set of people. Because seriously, don't treat me like I'm staff and less important than your twitter feed and expect another invitation.
posted by dejah420 at 7:36 PM on January 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


I haven't really worked out how to appear interested in a conversation that I am not interested in. I can maintain eye contact, but this seems pretty unreliable. I'm told that holding it for too long makes it seem less like you're paying attention and more like you're commanding it. But I don't know where that line is, and I don't have whatever sixth sense would tell me I've crossed it.

Having a social convention to let me politely ignore what's going on right now without having to be a good actor would be very useful to me. I think the cell phone could provide that, and it provides an obvious segue if someone wants my attention: "What are you typing there?" But if that's a mortal insult then I guess I'll have to take my chances staring blankly at the wall behind you.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:06 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


"But recently I've noticed a huge uptick in people that constantly check their phones because of facebook or twitter or g+ or whatever."

The one that gets me every time is the CNN news alerts, because they make an intrusive noise and even though virtually all of them are either political minutia or something I don't give a crap about (Kardashian weddings!), I'm always afraid THIS IS THE ONE telling me the asteroid is coming for Earth.

I can ignore my e-mail and social networking just fine, but those stupid news alerts make me feel like I'm missing something important and I can just feel the magnetic pull of neeeeeeeeding to check.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:29 PM on January 20, 2012


Some people have friends, acquaintances, even a social group or two where phones are part of the equation. I can understand that certain persons do not have same. Fine. But why generalize?

Really. Is this such an issue? Maybe in your social circle it's gauche to have a smartphone on the table. Well good for you. Why don't you leave the rest of us alone?

There is no one set of social rules that encompasses every damn body in the world. And some of us don't give a damn about your particular social constraints.

Further up in this thread I stated my particular take on this concept. Sure it was a bit over the top. But I stand by it.

Please allow me to rephrase it:

If I have a device that is essentially a small computer in my possession. And if I have it where I can see and use it. And since I am a computer person. You should not be surprised if I occasionally access said device. If you see this as some kind of social faux pas, fine. That's on you. Not me. If we are having dinner together, for whatever reason, you either know me or know of me.

To me I'm not being a dick, I'm just being me. If I'm being a dick to you tell me so. I'll probably put it away. Or you could be passive aggressive. If that's your thing. If it is I won't bother you again.

I go out with people I like. If I do not like you I won't waste my time. If having my iPhone on the table annoys you, then that means I won't be spending more time with you. And I'm sure you won't miss me.

Problem fucking solved.
posted by Splunge at 8:31 PM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


If I'm being a dick to you tell me so.

You're being a dick.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:44 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


OH SNAP
posted by LogicalDash at 9:07 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


> You're being a dick.

I do not agree.

The phenomenon is a Toffler Future Shock shit. The other day we had a post where somebody went to the New York Philharmonic and their cell phone was ringing in the front row and everybody in the auditorium was freaked out and the conductor walked off the stage in indignation.

We are all having to figure this stuff out faster than we can comfortably do so.

The other day I went to a meetup at the local hacker space for the first time. There was a large round table and there were seven dudes and three women all far younger than myself staring at their own laptops and only very infrequently uttering words at one another and there were no words at all uttered to the whole table. It was quite surreal from my own point of view. Plus: the place was a rat harborage but even worse; they had these huge cushion couches and huge cushion chairs which in my mind in that environment means only one thing and that is bedbug habitat. I made a mistake and wore khakis and although I was only there for three hours those pants looked like I had rubbed them up and down with newpapers twenty times.

So there are cultural divides and generational divides and maybe even more in play.

But the weird thing from my own point of view v. Spelunge is he looks (he has a photo on his user page) like he is around the same age as me and he is advocating for these young folks behavior as a proper default. I can sort of understand it with them but not at all with him.

But I don't think he's a dick.

Just wrong.
posted by bukvich at 9:18 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Inventing a cute passive-aggressive game seems like a great way to tell one's friends you really, really want to hang out with them, but only on your terms.

Also, people who rail about how they don't even HAVE a cell phone with the clear implication of moral superiority are fucking tedious.

Being an adult in 2011 -- or, really, you know, EVER -- is about understanding your friends, and not being a rigid prick. It also involves understanding the evolving nature of manners. Today, people sometimes take calls, or respond to texts, while in the presence of others. HORRORS. In this brave new world, there are vastly more ad hoc plans for socialization than engraved invitations.

I'm not offended if a dining companion politely takes a call, or answers a text, or even sends one. Assuming that's what we're talking about, and not the iPhone equivalent of sticking one's nose in a book all night, my considered opinion is that the phone stack brigade should get the fuck over themselves.
posted by uberchet at 9:18 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


But I don't think he's a dick.

It's not because he keeps his phone on the table. It's because, in response to some internet people saying they don't like something, he adamantly replied:

I go out with people I like. If I do not like you I won't waste my time.

That is being a dick.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:25 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's being a dick? Not hanging out with people I don't like? WTF?
posted by Splunge at 9:29 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


To clarify for those that have a problem with what I said. I was particularly stating that:

If I am spending time with you, in a restaurant and you think I'm disrespecting you by spending time with my phone... tell me I'm being a dick.

As for the reading impaired HERE. You can also call me a dick. But not for the same reason.

And I will call you a moron for not getting the jist of what I wrote before jumping in with your dick first.
posted by Splunge at 9:35 PM on January 20, 2012


Oh man, did you just call me "reading impaired" and "a moron," in opposition to my calling you out on being kind of a dick? Because...I mean, you see the problem there, right? I'm a reading-impaired moron, and even I see it.

Take five steps back. Nobody here is going to persecute you for looking at your phone. If anything, it's a little weird that you feel so resolute and put upon.

If it helps, I will own the fact that I am a dick.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:46 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


YOU TWO ARE GETTING YOUR DICKS OUT IN A RESTAURANT?
posted by Artw at 9:52 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah. I'm being a dick now. And I apologize. Sorry. I obviously get stupid when I discuss certain subjects. Up until now it was religion. And I try to stay out of those threads. I guess I just found another one.

Peace all.
posted by Splunge at 9:59 PM on January 20, 2012


[Here's where we stop with the dickslinging and namecalling.]
posted by taz at 10:00 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Okay, but can I leave mine out on the table just a little longer? It's more comfortable than it looks.]
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:01 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


[just use your napkin]
posted by taz at 10:07 PM on January 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you take calls or texts regularly you’re just not someone I need to be around.

People who can’t leave their phones alone are shallow, immature, and need to be constantly distracted. Oh, and really into making excuses and being indignant.


As part of my job, I manage the calendars of two executives. This means I am also responsible for handling their travel arrangements.

Two months ago I was out to dinner with friends when the ultimate nightmare occurred: both my executives were en route to a conference in Germany, but their connecting flights were canceled (two different flights, they were not flying together). I had to arrange new flights, new ground transportation, update hotel reservations, update this, update that, cancel this other thing, get people on the phone in Destination City to explain the situation, and after about 40 minutes of texting and emailing from the table (so I could have a bite or two of my meal without it growing stone cold and inedible while I starved) and stepping out into a quiet area to make calls, I was finally able to put the phone down and enjoy my time with my friends... who unfortunately had to leave about five minutes later.

I'm sorry that doing my job means that people like you will judge me as a shallow, immature, excuse-making, indignant jerk who you don't want to be around. But I certainly wouldn't want to be around someone who would be this judgemental about me doing the things I am actually required to do in order to keep my job.

Not everyone who uses a phone in public is the shitty person you are judging them to be.
posted by palomar at 10:43 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm always amazed when I go to a concert where the audience is predominantly young people how few of them treat the experience as a chance for that kind of transcendent experience of being completely lost in the moment that, for my generation, was really the ultimate goal of the concert experience. They're never simply listening to the music--they're taking videos and sending them to friends and then they're updating their Facebook pages and then...

...looking around to see who else was there and checking who was looking at who else and trying to flirt with someone a few rows over and getting another beer and having to pee and lighting a cigarette and commenting on all of the above with your friends and getting dirty looks from the super-earnest older fans and making out with your date...
posted by desuetude at 10:54 PM on January 20, 2012


My mom's in her 60s. She has an iPod Touch. (I have an iPhone.) She plays with it when we go out to dinner while we're waiting for our food, rather than talking to me, and it drives me crazy. I'll take her to the doctor and he'll walk in and start talking to her and she'll keep playing on it, while answering him, until I take it away from her. Isn't this backwards?
posted by IndigoRain at 11:15 PM on January 20, 2012


This is just precious, I plan to read it and savor it many times

I live to serve. I hope your reading is a comfort in your dotage. You did struggle right through to the end, though. The bit where I underline for the hard of humour that my tongue is in my cheek? If not, might be time to unfavourite.

If it is mere joy at my prose style that moves you, rather than your apparent sense of intellectual superiority, carry on and read yourself into a lather old love.
posted by howfar at 7:17 AM on January 21, 2012


"Not everyone who uses a phone in public is the shitty person you are judging them to be."

I didn’t say they were shitty people, I said I don’t want to be around them if they can’t excuse themselves and keep it to a minimum. I’m also aware that there actually are doctors who are on call, and that sometimes someone really is getting a call telling them the house is on fire, or someone is dying. I’ve never said there was never a legitimate reason to use a phone. That’s not really what we’re talking about here, and I pretty sure we all know it. Of the people I see everyday texting or talking while driving, or checking out at the store, movie theaters, or eating with friends, etc. I’m willing to bet 99.99% are not learning of an emergency right at that moment. And if you say "yeah, what if it was an emergency?" then you have some things to think about.
posted by bongo_x at 8:09 AM on January 21, 2012


The corpse in the library: "Attempting it with my iPhone I have a choice between uniboob or my phone sticking out over my shirt's neckline, either of which seems more distracting than leaving the phone on the table."

This may have to do with boob size and bra style. When I'm wearing outfits with no pockets, I'll regularly tuck my iphone into my bra off to the side a bit. Sometimes there's a visible edge, and sometimes the cut of my shirt and squishiness of boob make it invisible. Tucking a device dead center requires something a bit smaller, like a nano.

This does avoid the temptation to pull my phone out in public, though. I feel a much stronger inhibition about rummaging in my bra at the table than I do about checking something on my phone.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:47 AM on January 21, 2012


May I express my thanks to all those who have done something sensible with this rather frivolous thread and used it to discuss the practical and aesthetic implications of bra/phone placement.
posted by howfar at 8:52 AM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anytime! And we didn't even get into the inevitable nipple-prints on screens!
posted by pink candy floss at 7:55 PM on January 22, 2012


Try putting it sort of above one breast, where the cup part of your bra starts, so the bottom half of the phone is in the cup and the top half is behind the strap. It stays by friction.

COLD! SO, SO, SO COLD! Also, I can't read it from this position at all.
posted by maudlin at 10:20 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


"mere joy at my prose style that moves you"

It's pure joy, my dear little cabbage. How could I unfavorite that?
posted by HopperFan at 6:25 AM on January 23, 2012


I'm always amazed when I go to a concert where the audience is predominantly young people how few of them treat the experience as a chance for that kind of transcendent experience of being completely lost in the moment that, for my generation, was really the ultimate goal of the concert experience.

For what it's worth, I was at a concert recently where the median age of attendees was around 50, and I saw the same thing going on. It is not a "kids these days" phenomenon, at all.

Also, the absolute WORST "private text conversation at the dinner table" offender I know is my mother.
posted by Sara C. at 10:29 AM on January 24, 2012


Yes, this is a "fascination with new technology" thing and guess for whom it is newest? Your mom.

Don't worry. Remember how up in arms everyone was ~5 years ago about all these annoying people talking on their cell phones?

The fascination will pass and people will get back to being annoying in more traditional ways. Or else they'll get iOS implanted in their arms and we can know how to avoid them.

That's being a dick? Not hanging out with people I don't like? WTF?

No, it's your attitude. "I'm right, you're wrong, case closed." ;)

It's all context, as noted. Someone who "hangs out with friends" all the time is likely going to feel and act differently than someone like me, who has two young kids and rarely gets to "hang out" ever.

And of course people who get all up in arms about the behavior are taking it too far and are oversensitive, but it can be rude and offputting in a lot of cases.

My real of thumb is: are you looking at something on your phone that the whole group would enjoy and are you likely to share it? If so, load it up. (Are you playing Scrabble with your sister? If so, why didn't you just stay home and play Scrabble with your sister?)

I see jillions of conversations of participants of all ages are looking at phones together. It's the one guy looking at his phone alone that's a bit offensive to me, the more so the smaller the group.

Presentation and communication are also a big part of it. "Excuse me, I really need to text my mom really quick" or "I'm sorry, I really need to take this call outside" is a lot better than just picking up your phone and texting or answering.

And checking your phone for important messages (3-5 seconds) is much different than fiddling with it for minutes.

It's not a mortal insult; it's just rude. You won't lose any friends, but you may lose out on a potential one. *shrug*
posted by mrgrimm at 12:33 PM on January 24, 2012


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