I recently had a somewhat heated discussion with someone I know about the “appropriateness” of people texting while they are spending time with another person(s). My position was/is that I find it rude and off-putting when I am with a person one-on-one and — the moment there is the slightest lull in the conversation — the other person begins texting away furiously on their phone.
Sometimes there doesn’t even have to be a break in the conversation, just the intrusive beep or buzz of an incoming text, to which one apparently has to immediately respond. The non-texter in this situation almost feels pressured to engage in non-stop incessant babbling just to try to maintain the attention of the other person so that they don’t allow themselves to be distracted by the latest random thought of whichever of the hundreds of people on their list happens to text them. What were formerly moments of silent reflection are now texting opportunities.
The person that I had this discussion with didn’t agree with me. I was told that (since I am not a texter) I just don’t understand how things work these days. I maintained that it didn’t matter whether I was a texter or not; that some basic rules of civility still apply, such as not making or taking a phone call while in the middle of a conversation or during a joint activity with another person. Regardless, my companion still maintained that I just don’t “get” the texting thing.
I started to wonder if I had completely lost touch, and really didn’t get it anymore. So, I decided to check it out with the experts online. Below are direct quotes from the first five web pages that popped up in my search results when I entered the phrase “texting etiquette”. These are direct copy and paste quotes from the experts:
“1. Common courtesy still rules. Contrary to popular belief, composing an SMS while you’re in a face-to-face conversation with someone is just about as rude as taking a voice call.”
“This is for the girls out there: if I’m buying you dinner, put the #$*#$&&#$* phone away. Seriously. There is nothing more irritating than when a girl texts throughout an entire evening of dinner and drinks. The old “never answer your phone during dinner” rule has been around for decades and for the most part is still in effect.”
“The “other people” factor. It is not necessarily rude to text while you’re in the presence of others–if the point of the text message is to involve the recipient in the physical gathering. On the other hand, communicating extensively via text when you should be fully engaged in what’s going on in the real world will surely annoy those around you. Again the comparison of a texting session to a phone call is apt and should give you a sense of how to behave.”
“#1 If you’re out with a friend for coffee, a beer, or for dinner, do not check your texts. So you’re out with your good friend, Bort. What texting in the middle of a conversation says to Bort is that despite Bort sitting right across from you, in the flesh, he is still not a priority. Bort thinks you’re rude and you’re being an a$#*&#. If something is really important, people usually call, not text. Wait until Bort uses the can before you check your super important text messages and Facebook/Twitter updates. Exception: The only time texting in this scenario is acceptable, is if you’re waiting to hear back from someone who is going to be joining you and Bort or if you’re waiting on some urgent news, and in this case, you should tell Bort ahead of time that you’re expecting an urgent text.“
“Don’t send texts to friends when you are with someone else. Reading and sending texts when with someone else (while on a date, for example) tells the one you are with they are less important than the one you are texting. This doesn’t apply when just casually hanging out with others.”
Based on the above quotes from experts, it seems that I might have a case; that it is often rude to send/receive texts while engaged in a conversation or activity with another person. Naturally, as noted above, there will be exceptions to this, such as when expecting truly important news or information.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Because YOU — my blog subscribers and readers — are from various cultures and social environments all around the world, I’m interested to know what your take is on this texting in company issue. Please use the comments box below.
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