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Phones at the table

There’s something quite refreshing about sitting at a table with friends, each with their mobile device, either in hand or set out next to them, and having an intense discussion.  You name the topic.  Everyone dives in.  Fact-checking runs rampant.  When one person repeats a favorite ditty from a cable station, another carefully walks through the facts that make the catchphrase sound ridiculous.  What may have started as an uninformed discussion suddenly becomes a wide-ranging debate with facts, positions, and quotes.  Discussions are much more impressive when you arrive with talking points about a topic dear to your heart.  These can all be stored in the Cloud and accessed with a device.

Most mobos (i.e., mobile bohemians) incorporate their devices into their lives and don’t think twice about bringing them out at all times of the day and night.  When you least expect it, the device may be found in the hands of the person next to you. What may seem impolite in the pre-device era has become the modus operandi.

The key, in many circumstances, is to be aware of the proper etiquette.  If you are with strangers or linemates, you need to be more courteous, since many of them may have different levels of tolerance for technology.  Just how, and when, devices can be used form the tenets of phone etiquette.  Savvy users are quite skilled in bringing the devices into situations without offending those present.

Three basic rules of thumb:

  1. Introduce your device if you are the first, and casually mention that you read something about the discussion subject at hand.
  2. For small groups and dates, don’t text during conversations.  Wait for a break, then ask if you can send a quick text because it was such a great talk.
  3. Don’t make or take phone calls at the table.  Wait for a break and excuse yourself.

It always pays to be courteous.  If there are strong feelings about having your device at the table, take the time to explain how you plan to use your phone.  It’s an excellent time to ease fears and coach the non-believers into using their phones and mobile devices more.

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