By Willie Sawyers
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Cellphones and texting have made it possible to have instant communication with someone anytime and anyplace. But they have also unleashed an epidemic of rudeness.
It’s the anytime and anyplace capability that is causing the problem, because people are using it to the fullest extent, calling and texting on their cellphones anytime, anyplace.
I write about this rudeness every year, but it seems the problem is getting worse. People, especially the younger generation, can’t seem to function unless they are texting back and forth continuously.
It doesn’t matter where they are or what they are doing, if they get a text, they feel they must answer it. Thankfully, the state legislature recently passed a ban on texting while driving.
I hosted about 10 people for a leadership training class last week and made the mistake of not asking people to turn off their cell phones during the presentations. I should have explained there would be plenty of breaks for them to check messages or answer texts.
But because I didn’t set the cellphone ground rules first, the presentations that I’d spent a great deal of time to arrange, as well as the presenters who volunteered their time, were interrupted continuously by people stepping in and out of meetings to answer their cellphones.
At least they stepped out to do their talking. With texting, now they don’t even have to leave the meeting to be rude.
I looked up once and saw two young ladies tapping away on their cellphones while a speaker was giving a Powerpoint presentation. The speaker was just a few feet away from the texters, and I’m sure he noticed they weren’t paying much attention.
How rude was that? They texted during most of the 45-minute presentation. It showed a lack of respect to the speaker. As host, I should have spoken up and asked the young ladies to put away their cellphones, but I didn’t want to be well, rude. I’ve learned my lesson and won’t let that happen at the next meeting I host.
People who disrupt meetings or show a lack of respect by tapping away on their cellphones need to be called out, or it’s going to get worse. There’s absolutely no reason for this rudeness because 99.9 percent of the conversations and texts are just meaningless chit-chat that can be answered later.
That same afternoon, a man made a point to come to the office to speak to me about an issue he was having. I was glad to talk with him but during the conversation, his cellphone kept ringing and he kept answering it. I almost asked him to come back later when we could talk uninterrupted.
I applauded a local minister who told me how he handled a similar situation during a recent Sunday service. While delivering the sermon, he looked out in the audience and saw a couple of people texting on a cellphone. They were passing it back and forth between them.
The minister stopped the sermon and politely asked the people to put away the cellphone. He wasn’t trying to embarrass them, he was just trying to stop them from being rude. Amen to that, preacher.
People are interrupting church services, meetings, movies and even face-to-face conversations by talking or texting on their cellphones. The rudeness has to stop.
Text messaging is one of the simplest and most useful means of communicating. But there needs to be some etiquette. People need to show common courtesy when using their cellphones.
First and foremost, they need to remember that their phones have an off button.
There are very, very few things in this world that absolutely cannot wait.
Amen to that.