With 85 percent of adult Americans now owning a cellphone, Intel had decided to study the etiquette of electronic device usage around the country. The company wanted to go beyond the anecdotal evidence of people yakking on the phone in movie theaters or texting (sexting?) as they drive. They hoped to find out if the facts back up the claims that people are using their electronic devices inappropriately or if a handful of outlier incidents are being blown out of proportion. The results were startling.
More than nine out of every 10 Americans surveyed (91 percent) admit that they have seen people using mobile technology in annoying ways and places. For instance, 48 percent have seen people chatting on the phone while in a public restroom. Admittedly, you hardly want to hear some random guy chatting with his wife while standing at a urinal, but that is hardly the worst offense. Thirty-nine percent report standing behind someone in a checkout line, while the cashier is told to wait so that they can finish their conversation first. More common complaints are people talking loudly on the phone in public places (65 percent) or while driving (73 percent).
As for driving, 73 percent may be high, but perhaps even more worrying is the fact that 24 percent reported seeing people using a laptop while driving. Not a cell phone. A laptop.
While 91 percent admit to seeing inappropriate mobile device behavior, only 19 percent admit to actually engaging in it (could it be that 62 percent don’t even realize that they are doing it?). The excuse most commonly given is the sophomoric, “Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn’t I?”
Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute worked with Intel on the project. She says that mobile devices “are here to stay,” but adds, “What’s important to me is how we as a society are going to choose to create new social norms for how we use those [devices].” Post also points out that “the device in and of itself is not rude or polite.” That may be the case, but people are.
So what is the rudest thing you have seen people do with a mobile device?