Etiquette in these days of modern times

During the summer, I went to dinner with some friends, members of a tech-oriented email group that met in person every year or two. We told stories about tropospheric refraction, Thoreau’s walk to Wachusett Mountain, and Maxwell’s equations and light. Each of us used our cellphones to check facts and show pictures.

After about 15 minutes of this, the organizer of the meal said, “Alright, everyone’s cellphone on the table, face down.” A bit surprised, we cooperated. He stacked the phones in the center of the table. “The first person to reach for his cellphone has to pay for everyone’s dinner.”

This wasn’t a group of distracted teenagers. The youngest was about 50 and several had 70 in their sights.

irrcon.east.web

According to the latest Pew research on mobile etiquette, 92 percent of Americans have a cellphone of some kind. Of that number, 89 percent said that they used their phones during a recent social gathering.

People don’t (intentionally) use their phones to be rude. Typically, they take photos of the gathering and post the photos to a social network such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. (Before the cellphone ban at dinner that night, I took a photo of my dinner companions.)

It’s like driving. Every one of us has driven too fast or too slow and has grumbled about other drivers who are too slow or fast. What we do makes sense for us at the time and can also be quite annoying to others.

So, let us be mindful of when and where we use our smartphones and tablets and be patient with others who do the same.

By the way, none of us reached for our phones during dinner that night and so each paid for his own meal. After coffee was served and the bill paid, we were reunited, phone and owner, like a puppy coming home to his boy.

 

How I spent my summer vacation

When we were kids, summer seemed to stretch on forever. I’d get a buzzcut from my father in late June, kick off my shoes, and head for the lake. We had television, courtesy of an antenna in a big oak tree. We are on a hill in north central Massachusetts, so TV reception was good. We’d get stations from Boston, Manchester, Hartford, and, if the wind was right, Albany, New York.

camp.internet
MiFi in the window

That went on for many a year. When it came time for Internet access, we had to improvise.  We had  a gadget that connected to the ‘net by way of a weak cellular connection. (Again, the condition of the atmosphere had a lot to do with the quality of signal.)

We now have Internet via Comcast. The connection is good because we’re the only regular users on the line. As a result, I can and do work from my lake home from May until the weather gets cold again.

We venture into town a few times a week. The traffic is always a bit of a shock. Most of the time, I can travel from one end of Phillipston and pass five or fewer cars. Many times, the road is my own.

I no longer get the buzzcut, but my shoes are off. My best this summer has been four days without shoes. One year, I went a whole week. Life is good.