How about a little respect?

Apr 15 2013 - 8:56am


Illustration by SIERRA LAWRENCE/Ogden High School/
Illustration by SIERRA LAWRENCE/Ogden High School/

You're washing your hands in the bathroom at school, when you hear someone in one of the stalls say something.

"They're not talking to me ... are they?" you wonder, and then you suddenly hear someone exclaim under their breath: "Yes! Just beat that Temple Run high score! Take that!"

After school, you go to work. There's a rush and you're trying to help as many people as possible, but the next person in line is too busy talking on her phone to notice. After five minutes of trying to wave her over and watching everyone behind her shoot daggers at her back with their eyes, you move on to the next customer.

The customer notices this time, snaps her phone shut, and glares at you. "Some people," she scoffs as she walks out.

Later that night, you and your friend go out for dinner. But instead of talking, she's texting the whole time. So you pretend to check your phone to have something to do, but really, you're sitting there wondering what the world's gone to. All day, all you've seen is people on their phones, blocking out the real world. "Is technology so important that we've forgotten how to interact with actual people?" you wonder.

Many teens admit they can vent for days on the subject of phone-induced disrespect.

"Talking on your phone during the checkout lane. Talking/texting while at the bank, at the movie, or at the table," says Amber Wall, a Northridge High graduate currently attending Weber State.

Other situations include people at the gym talking on the phone while working out; awful spelling, grammar and punctuation while texting; and not excusing yourself when answering the phone in front of others.

In today's society, cell phones have given us an excuse to be ill-mannered, rude and antisocial. We get "phonely" -- phone-lonely -- when we lose touch with our technological devices but it might also be time to realize what we sometimes do can annoy those around us.

You're where?

Let's start with the annoyance that, with Verizon and T-Mobile battling for who has more coverage where, there are barely any places with no cell phone reception. That means teens often answer calls in public places like libraries, Frontrunner trains, restaurants, and yes, bathrooms.

This is where the 10-foot proximity rule comes in: Try to stay 10 feet away from the nearest person when you're talking on your phone.

Sometimes teens are so used to checking their cells (Twitter, Facebook, picture swiping) for no reason other than just to look busy, they don't realize how rude it is to their companions. It's the equivalent of constantly glancing at the door, causing people to think you're looking for something better. Some psychologists consider compulsive phone-checking an addiction, like drugs.

"I hate when people text and I'm trying to talk to them," says Layton High junior Karoline Chamberlain.

Erin Modhill agrees: "I think people are being disrespectful by texting while talking to someone else," the Weber High senior says.

Texting can be rude in numerous ways. For example, it's hard to convey emotion in texts, so things are easily taken the wrong way or the wrong messages can be sent to the wrong people with one wrong button.

Something new that's come up is nonstop texting. Imagine this: You're sitting in a restaurant, waiting for your friend, boss or sister. He or she comes in, runs up to your table, and says, "Didn't you get my texts? Why didn't you reply?"

You pull out your phone and see 10 unread messages from the same person saying: "Parking. At the valet. Are you here? Walking up the stairs. Walking in. At the front desk. No one's here. Where are you? Oh, I see you! I'm coming! Look up!" You laugh and say you didn't feel your phone vibrate, but secretly you're wondering why the person did that, especially because they were five minutes early anyway.

Mind your messages

All sorts of unpleasant but easily avoidable situations can result from annoying or offensive ringtones, voicemail messages and even "leave-a-message-at-the-beep" recordings, so be careful when you choose songs or record clips for your phone. If you have an unprofessional message greeting your missed calls, be careful if you give out your cell number to employers.

Also, overusing the ability to screen calls can become obvious after a while. If it's done every time to the same person, they most likely know.

Luke Adams, a junior at Layton High, says, "(One of my biggest pet peeves is) when people text you all the time but then never have the 'time' to call you."

Even texting by itself can be an issue.

"When someone texts you first, then don't reply after you text them back, that's annoying," says Ashton High, a graduate of NUAMES and student at Salt Lake Community College.

However, if you legitimately miss a call, returning it within 30 seconds requires the other person to pick up by common courtesy. But if that time is over five minutes, there's no guarantees. In a game of phone tag, even the etiquette experts free you from the responsibility of trying to get in contact with the other person once there's been more than four calls.

Of course, there's a legitimate reason for freaking out when we lose our phones or leave them at home. Our calendars and alarms are there. Our homework can be done on there. Our passwords and login information can be stolen from there. However, sometimes our fondness for our cellular devices goes beyond what's essential, turning into what experts call cell-phone induced ADD, an unhealthy obsession with our gadgets.

As NUAMES sophomore Zach Zundel sees it, "Your phone should honestly spend 90 percent of its life on silent or vibrate. The whole world doesn't need to know when you get a call or text."

Going phone-free?

In the end, we have to ask, what happened to common courtesy? Our great-great-great-grandparents are probably rolling in their graves, remembering the days when conversation was literally considered an art. Rude cell phone users can be found anywhere there's a signal, but that's not an excuse for faking poor reception, ruining a movie or play performance for others, or shouting the details of your weekend into your phone in public.

The greatest tip? Use common sense and be considerate. If you wouldn't want anyone doing it around you, don't do it. Put your phone on silent, lower your voice, ask permission to text or call, and don't swear.

Or for an even greater change, try turning your phone off the next time you're with people. They'll know you're respecting them and their time and maybe even return the favor.

And remember, don't spread yourself too thin. If it's really important, they'll call back.

Minna Wang is a senior at NUAMES. Email her at



*  In the United States, there are more cell phones than people.

*  Americans send more than 3.5 million texts a minute.

*  Nine out of 10 students admit to texting in class; 1 out of 10 will text during an exam.

*  One text takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that's like driving the length of an entire football field blindfolded.

*  Three out of 4 Americans admit to using cell phones while going to the bathroom to text, email or play games. 63 percent answer calls while going to the bathroom.

*  The average person talks three times louder on a cell. One theory is that we can't hear the person on the other end, so we talk louder hoping that somehow it will make them more comprehensible.

*  Ninety percent of cell phone users think they have great mobile manners -- even though 75 percent think cell phone etiquette's gotten worse in the past two years.

Source: "Cellular Jerks: Where are Your Mobile Manners?" at



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