Cellular etiquette

By Ms Joyce Sinclair
Guyana Chronicle
August 27, 2001

THERE is no doubt that the cellular phone has been a great boon to communication in Guyana especially:

for those persons not fortunate enough to be served with land lines (if they can afford the cell phone) for emergencies, and in the past, for warning motorist and others about the presence of protestors in one or other part of the City, i.e. warning about which streets to avoid.

However, cellular phones have not in every case been a blessing, but often a curse.

Thanks to Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T), cellular phones have been now brought within the reach of thousands of consumers, who prior to now could not afford them. However, simultaneously with the acquisition of these wireless instruments, there has been an increased demonstration of horribly bad manners, discourtesy and indiscretion, lack of consideration for others, ostentatious behaviour and even sacrilegious conduct.

In addition to this, I have seen nowhere any education programmes on how the users of this new technology should conduct themselves, should use it or what are the rules of etiquette for cell phones. I am aware that even as I am speaking, there are many persons and organisations that need training and practise in telephone etiquette and here I am referring to land lines. This is now compounded with the arrival of the cellular phone with no accompanying guidelines.

Let me venture into some basic rules of etiquette for the users of cellular phones:

Do not take your cellular phone to church if the phone is turned on. It rings loudly in the midst of a Sermon or Communion Service and this is distasteful if not sacrilegious.

If you are in a line at a commercial bank waiting to approach the teller, and your cell phone rings loudly, ask for an excuse, go out of the line, go some place else so that the entire bank is not exposed to the banality of the conversation. This goes for the line at the bank, the doctor’s surgery, the line at the National Insurance Scheme or any such public place.

Do not, if you have approached the teller, take your cell phone from your waist and begin to dial a friend and then proceed with the conversation. This is in poor taste. The teller needs to concentrate, he/she is counting money. Radios and cell phones should be banned from teller lines at banks. This behaviour occurs so often.

Do not drive and use a cell phone. Both hands should be available to hold the steering wheel. You endanger your life as well as those in your vehicle while you try to dial or respond to the loud ringing of your cell phone. Pull off to the side of the road and use the phone. Our record of traffic accidents is already phenomenal without the contribution of cell phone users.

Do not wear you earpiece in the presence of friends or at cocktail parties or at meetings. It is inconsiderate and discourteous. To whom are you listening? The friend, the speaker at the meeting or the person at the end of the earpiece?

Do not speak loudly on the cell phone when you are in a crowd or in the supermarket.

Why wear two cell phones and a beeper on your waist? There must be a law against this. What happens if this person is driving or riding a motorcycle and both phones ring? In any case why is it necessary to be so conspicuous, to flaunt our newly acquired possessions before our less fortunate friends?

Let us show a little more consideration for others. Let us demonstrate courtesy and not behave like little six-year-olds who show off with new toys.