Cellphone etiquette: An oxymoron?

Are Blackberry users the new smokers?” asks an editorial in USA Today, decriying the lack of courtesy when it comes to cell phone use.

While there doesn’t seem to be a similar “second-hand” danger, many find being in proximity to someone lost in conversation to the exlcusion of being aware of their surroundings just as obnoxious, if not as noxious.

I used to travel to Manhattan via comuter bus. Despite signs warning people that “cell phone use is prohibited,” riders regularly dialed in, calling home to alert a wife that he would be home in 10 minutes (so get your boyfriend out of the house) or a husband that she was not happy with the way the nanny dressed her little precious. And God forbid you should politely ask someone to tone it down or remind them of such prohibitions. Sarcastic responses at best, threats of physical harm at worst.

A radio commercial in my area features a very self-absorbed woman engaged in such a conversation, laughing riotously and dismissing the concern of her co-conversationalist about her ebullience. “What do I care, I’ll never see these people again,” she sniffs.

And I can’t count the number of drivers I pass on a daily basis who are trying to balance cellphones (even though state law decrees using hands-free devices only while driving), coffee, food, and/or reading materials.

The essay cites a study by that found that a third of BlackBerry users show signs of addiction “similar to alcoholics.” And I’m sure studies have been or will be done about the frequency of accidents when using such appliances.

I guess that means people who plan on using their cellphones should make sure they have a designated caller. Can’t you see the promos now? “Friends don’t let friends call and drive.”

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