Bad Cell Phone Behavior: Are You Being Rude?

More than 20% of those surveyed can't stand it when people talk too loudly on their phone in public. Here are more examples of bad cell phone behavior that get on our nerves.

Eric Zeman, Contributor

July 28, 2011

4 Min Read

Now that nearly everyone on earth has a cell phone, they have become ingrained in our everyday lives. We carry them with us all the time, use them all the time, and run into people using their cell phones all the time. While there are no hard and fast rules for using cell phones in public, we sure know what we don't like, according to Nokia.

The cell phone maker conducted a poll several weeks ago to discover what behaviors we abhor the most. While family and friends are generally forgiving of our faults, colleagues and business partners may be less so. Keep the following in mind next time you're tempted to pull your smartphone out of your pocket during a lunch meeting with a client.

What ticks us off the absolute most? People who play games, movies, or music in public without using headphones. Instead, they blast their activities through the phone's speaker at full volume so every one within a half mile can hear it. This was picked as the most offensive behavior by 21.48% of respondents. I've seen it a million times on the subway in New York. Somebody has the volume cranked while playing Angry Birds and you can hear it throughout the entire car. What that person ends up with is a subway car full of Angry Commuters.

The second-most annoying habit also is volume related: Loud talkers get the thumbs down from 20.89% of respondents. This is something I encounter almost daily. Some random stranger is walking down the street, through the mall, into Starbucks while carrying on a conversation at full volume. Sorry, I don't need to hear it. Shut up! (Especially if you're talking about sensitive secret corporate stuff!)

Coming in third place, 17.49% of respondents said people who use their cell phones to send text messages--or, worse, make phones calls--in movie theaters deserve severe retribution. Movie theaters are dark. Phone screens are bright. When a cell phone lights up in a movie theater, it is really distracting. Given the cost of movie tickets these days, I'd be mad too if the person in front of me was checking their phone throughout the entire movie. As far as corporate life goes, the equivalent would be sending BBMs during a PowerPoint or other presentation in a darkened room. Turning on your cell phone when you're supposed to be paying attention to work-related stuff isn't going to win you any friends at work.

Personally, I think this one is pretty bad. Say you're standing at the water cooler or in the lunchroom talking to some colleagues. Right while you're in the middle of a story about what your crazy friend named Fred did over the weekend, one of your coworkers pulls out his/her phone and starts sending text messages. Just under 12% of people say that is really, really rude, and they wish you'd listen to them talk.

The fifth place winner surprised me a bit: 6.51% say the bad behavior that annoys them the most is when people take pictures and upload them without permission. One has to wonder what this 6.51% of people got themselves caught doing on camera that they don't want their social circles to know about.

Anyone who's attended a business meal will agree that it is rude when your dining companion breaks out his or her phone at the table during the meal. This bugs the heck out of 5.54% of people enough to make them enraged. Eating is a social activity, but not the time for posting updates to your social networks--especially if you're trying to close a sale.

If you are constantly looking at your phone's screen to see if you missed a call or a text message, chances are you're really annoying 4.66% of the people around you.

Are you always scrolling through your messages? That bugs 2.04% of people a lot.

Other bugaboos include using phones in restaurants, using your phone in bed, and over-doing it with the Foursquare check-ins.

Last, but not least, if you use your cell phone to cheat on a quiz down at your local pub, you're really ticking off 1.55% of people.

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About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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