Not too long ago, while I was waiting to board a plane, an older man approached me and asked me if I knew where the bathroom was. I didn’t hear him at first, so I asked him to repeat it. He smirked.
“You should put your phone away,” he said. “You need to be aware of your surroundings.”
“Um,” I said. “Okay.”
I did not put my phone away.
Of course, it goes without saying that there is a certain standard of common-sense cell phone etiquette that should be followed that many people, admittedly, do not. Like, it is not nice if you are trying to have a conversation with someone and they have decided that this is the moment that they must text their other, more important friends, or curate some content for their Snapchat, or, like, start trading stocks on their investment app or whatever. But “Put your phone away! There’s a whole world out there that you aren’t seeing because you’re on your phone!” is a piece of old-person invective that’s right up there with “Why don’t you give me a smile? You’d be so much prettier if you did that,” in terms of aggravation levels, particularly if it’s said by a total stranger, in public, and with no legitimate provocation other than the fact that you are, you know, on your phone.
It should also be noted that all of these grievances are exactly what I have called them in the title–annoying. This means that they are not life-threatening, nor dangerous, are they dangerous, nor will they cause anyone any harm beyond some minor embarrassment. It is just that there are a good number of older people who, at one point or another, have said these things (or hold these beliefs) about cell phones. And they are, well, pretty obnoxious. Check them out here:
1. Kids aren’t able to do anything but be on their cell phones.
Sweet old man at passport control in Copenhagen asked me "What's wrong with you? Why are you holding your book and not your cell phone?"
— NIRVANA (@nirvanashahriar) May 20, 2016
Like…chill. (Also–not sweet! Do not internalize this anti-cell phone rhetoric!)
2. “Texting” is the comprehensive term for everything that a phone does.
“Texting” is texting, but it is also used in reference to Snapchat. And Twitter. And using the calculator. And reading the news–basically, everything that your phone is capable of doing. And it is used, obviously, as a means of complaining.
3. It is okay when they use their phones, obviously:
I've said it before, and I'll say it a million more times: old people cell phone etiquette is 10,000x more annoying than that of any kid.
— louis capwell (@loucapwell) July 30, 2016
4. Think that the only logical place to voice their disdain for cell phones is the internet (usually Facebook).
5. Or the comments section.
A while back, Ashley Reese wrote a piece about why people who hate smartphones are the worst. The comment section of this post quickly became filled with some of the worst, most nonsensical, most hypocritical, comments that have ever been on Gurl. A few choice selections: “I don’t even want to own a cell phone, never mind a smart one! it seems that the smarter the technology becomes the more vapid the user gets, go ahead check google to find an answer but wait……how do you spell Google?” ; “Bitch please, go back to taking selfies on snapchat.ps smartphones are going to die pretty soon in about five years.” K.
6. Phones have no use for anything.
(Not knowing how to use a phone doesn’t make it useless. Sorry!)
7. Phones are responsible made the younger generation lazy, inattentive, and narcissistic.
If we’re generalizing here, Gen Z–your generation if you were born around 1996, the one that gets the most flack for cell phone overuse–is actually one of the most enterprising, self-starting generations. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers–probably your grandparents’ generation, and one of the most common flack-givers to cell phone users–ruined the environment, markedly inflated the national debt, and have made it so that this debt is one that Gen Z and millennials are responsible for paying off. So.
8. We’d be so much more productive if we didn’t have cell phones.
9. We’d have so much more social interaction if we didn’t have cell phones.
10. This art piece is “deep.”
A life without smartphones, in photos. http://t.co/QvdVUSQG7l
— Marsh Myers (@marshmyers) October 16, 2015
It’s not. Taking away the focus of any event will always look odd–phones do not inherently turn people into zombies. Distraction techniques are not new for humans–you could do this project with newspapers, or books, or a theatre production, or the fire that cavepeople would watch for a diversion. It’s not deep.
11. And, finally, that their opinion on smartphones is always right and it is always their job to tell it to everyone.
Obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and, as opinions themselves go, an anti-cell phone one is not particularly damaging one. It only becomes that way when someone thinks that their opinion is the only one that matters, which most anti-cell phone cursaders seem to think.
What are your thoughts on cell phones? Has anyone ever said anything annoying to you about it? Let us know in the comments!