Technology permeates every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, the majority of us — myself included — are completely oblivious as to when and where our tech use makes us look like total jerks. As a result, we can end up insulting our friends, family and coworkers. Or being just plain, well, jerks.
So to save us all from ourselves, I polled colleagues and friends to uncover the tech etiquette breaches that annoy them most and why. If you can avoid doing a least some of the things on this list, the world may very well become a more harmonious place. And, at the very least, no one will ever again have to hear you talking on the phone in the bathroom.
1. Walking down the street while staring down at your phone
If you live in a densely populated city like New York, you know how hard it can be to simply walk to the corner store without being bumped and jostled by 40 different people. But, hey, that’s life in the big city. What drives people nuts, though, is when they’re walking down the street and the people in front of them decide to stop short because they need to check their latest Snapchat notifications.
Even worse are the people who slow to a crawl to tap out texts, as people struggle to walk around them. Yahoo Finance’s own Dan Roberts says he’ll now continue walking if he sees a texter coming towards him until they either walk into him or are forced to move.
So if you need to use your phone and you’re walking down the sidewalk, just move to the side. Or at the very least, avoid Dan Roberts.
2. Abusing “reply all” in emails
We all have that one person in our offices who unnecessarily clicks “Reply all” in response to mass emails. And that person is the living embodiment of evil. If you need to reply to the person who sent the original message, just click “Reply.” The other 500 people in the message chain don’t need to know that you’re going to miss the budget meeting for a dentist appointment.
3. Sending multiple messages when one will do the trick
While we’re on the topic of email faux pas, you should also refrain from being the person who sends 15 different emails when you can convey everything you need to say in a single message. That goes double for texts and instant messages.
I know you’re excited to tell me about the new Chick-fil-a that opened up near the mall, but if I hear my phone’s notification alert go off one more time, I’m going to throw it from my moving car. (I’m looking at you, Marc.)
4. Touching someone’s computer screen
This one is particularly close to my heart. If you’re looking over my shoulder at my computer screen and you want to point something out to me, you’re more than welcome to use your finger to point to it. But you better pray you don’t actually touch that monitor, because I will ruin you. What makes you think I’d like your grubby mitts leaving gross fingerprint marks on my pristine display? You know how hard that is to clean? Just keep your hands to yourself.
5. Pulling out your phone while having a one-on-one conversation
I get it — not every conversation you have in life is going to be a riveting exchange of ideas. In fact, most of them will probably be so mindlessly awkward you’ll try to chew through your own tongue just to keep from having to continue speaking.
But that doesn’t mean you should pull out your phone and browse Instagram while the other person is talking. By doing that you’re essentially saying that whatever’s coming out of their face hole is less important than the emoji-laden text you just received from your drunk ex.
6. Checking your phone or tablet in bed
I’m not talking about streaming Netflix or checking Twitter before you get some shuteye. I’m talking about even glancing at your phone or tablet while having “adult relations.” If you’re more interested in what’s happening on social media than what’s going on in your bedroom, you might have a problem.
7. Talking loudly on a bus, subway or anywhere in public, really
So you broke rule number six and you’re officially single again. That doesn’t give you carte blanch to have long, loud conversations about your breakup on the bus. Everyone else is either sitting quietly or trying to sleep. Even the people having conversations are at least trying to whisper. Just because you’re talking into your phone doesn’t mean everyone around you doesn’t hear you.
In fact, if you don’t know how to talk on the phone without your voice reaching the decibel level equivalent of a jet engine, you probably shouldn’t be able to talk on the phone, period.
8. Listening to music without headphones
Look, I’m happy you’ve discovered Olamide’s latest album (I actually don’t care), but do you really have to listen to it on your phone without wearing headphones? I mean, I’m totally willing to let that go when we’re outside, but if we’re on a subway or some other enclosed space it’s a no-go.
9. Don’t call and let it ring long enough to leave a blank voicemaiL
For whatever reason I develop a crippling feeling of anxiety whenever I see the little voicemail icon pop up on my phone. It takes a lot for me to muster the will to even check my messages. So when I’ve suffered through the prompts and chewed through my nails for fear that the voicemail is my boss calling to tell me I’ve been fired, getting a blank message is tantamount to torture.
10. Joining a conference call from the bathroom
I really shouldn’t have to explain this, so let’s just say we can hear everything.
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