New Year’s Resolution: Improve Your Tech Etiquette

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Love social media? Great. But what about social reality?

You might feel the need to tweet about having dinner “W/ my bestest” but consider the potential animosity that may be silently shooting your way from across the table. Face it: Our attachment to our mobile devices has hit an extreme, so much so that a Pew survey revealed that 75% of us consider it okay to use a smartphone from inside a public bathroom. A bathroom? Really? Is our need for digital down time that low?

(More on Techland: New Year’s Resolution: Clean Up Your Search Results)

When it comes to technology etiquette (techiquette, if you will), it seems as though we’re in two camps: 1) The habitual users, and 2) The frequently annoyed by camp number one. Etiquette expert Anna Post explained to Discovery News in September that what may be rude to some is absolutely fine behavior to others. “It’s just so funny sometimes the difference in mentality between generations,” she said. “I might be a little annoyed if my boyfriend took a call at the table, whereas for a younger generation, this is a normal action. Its considerate to answer the phone because it might be important, and to me that’s just a fascinating distinction.”

So courtesy is generational? I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that. I’ll never forget my first iPhone toting friend and her abrupt decent from our semi-serious conversation at dinner one night as she thumbed through her latest apps. I felt boring and put out, and since then, fiddling with a phone while I’m speaking has become my top gripe with humanity. (Really. I even hate this more than people who cut in line.)  “When the technology almost changes before the society can adapt, it can be confusing for people,” Post said. “We don’t want to be offensive to others, but we have to be using the technology to even start to figure out what can be offensive.” No offense to Ms. Post, but I think the jury is REAL IN.

(More on Techland: New Year’s Resolution: Send Smarter Emails)

It’s rude to leave your phone on the table during a date, just as it’s rude to light up that distracting glowy screen so that you can live-tweet the plot of Black Swan to the world. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, girl two rows over.) The fact is that I love technology and that I can connect with friends without being in front of a traditional computer screen. But, I don’t love what it’s doing to our culture. So next time you’re at dinner, turn your phone off, keep it in your pocket, and for goodness sake don’t chew with your mouth open.