Jon Dawson: Ten commandments of smartphone etiquette

Jon Dawson: Ten commandments of smartphone etiquette

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It's time to put a bridle on the smartphones.

Instead of tackling a big problem such as political strife, unrest in the Middle East or James Corden, I've decided to do what I can to alleviate a problem that can be solved one person at a time. There is no need to form an exploratory committee, hire a PR firm to generate a hashtag or ask professional athletes to wear oddly-colored shoes that don't match their uniforms.

Admittedly, I love my phone as much as anyone else. Like most of you, I feel like I'm missing an appendage if I leave the house without it.

A large chunk of my phone time is spent watching a guy in Nebraska by the name of Dereck Higgins sit in his house and wax poetic on different types of music. He's exposed thousands of people to great music outside the mainstream and in this clip shows his good taste while talking about a band with ties to Lenoir County:

Dereck Higgins talks about a band with roots in Lenoir County.

Self-promotion aside, smartphones can bring out the boorish side of people. To help everyone avoid these pitfalls, I've compiled a list that will hopefully help mankind inch a little closer to enlightenment:

Bluetooth — If you've ever sat in a car waiting for a fellow passenger's phone to sync up to the vehicle's Bluetooth system, you've probably gritted a few layers of enamel off of your teeth.

If you cared about the music enough, you'd buy a CD, as streaming sites are the devil. At the very least, just plug your phone into the stereo and get moving.

By the time the phone syncs up with the car it'll be time to go home. Also, “Bluetooth” sounds like an unhealthy preoccupation with Smurfs.

Loud ringtones — I used to love phones with goofy, obnoxious ringtones, but then I turned 10.

If you've ever worked in an office, you know how grating it is to miraculously drown out the 28 simultaneous conversations that are going on around you, only to then be jolted by the sound of the Dukes of Hazzard/General Lee car horn blaring from someone's phone.

The cherry on this sundae of oafishness? They'll let it ring 10 times without answering it, listen to the voicemail and become annoyed the caller didn’t leave a text.

Vulgar ringtones — Sometimes ringtones are not only loud, but also downright rude. When you've been banned from Chuck E. Cheese because you're ringtone is a "song"  with more expletives in it than the first season of "Deadwood,” it may be time for some serious soul searching.

Speakerphone — Unless you're trying to extinguish a grease fire, there's no reason to put anyone on speakerphone.

If you're speaking to someone via speakerphone while shuffling papers on your desk, it sounds like you're calling from a war zone and the echo of your voice bouncing around the room is just plain infernal.

You may think you're multitasking by talking to your friend about the benefits of lycanthropy, but you’re just doing two things poorly instead of one thing correctly.

Gaudy phone covers — I could lose an elephant in an elevator, so I understand the need to cloak important items in vibrant colors, That being said, your phone case shouldn't trigger seizures. Hunter's orange or lime green are acceptable, but the cubic-zirconium-bling/topographic-map-of-Cleveland needs to go.   

Selfies — Just stop it.

Checking your phone at stop lights — I just popped myself on the hand for this one. If it was that important, they would have called you — hands on the wheel at 10 and 2.

Choose a lane already — We all need to get together and choose between texts, emails or voicemails. There is nothing more maddening than working on a project with a group of people who haven't agreed on a preferred method of communication. Some people only read texts, some only read emails, and some ignore emails and voicemail. Civil wars have been started over less, so figure it out.

One conversation at a time — If you're one of the few who actually answers their phone, please only speak to the person on the other end of the call.

It's inconsiderate to carry on a conversation with the grocery store cashier and the person behind you in line while your best friend tries to catch you up on the most recent episode of "This Is Us" via telephone.

I've never seen the show, but after being behind someone at Aldi the other day for a few minutes, I can accurately describe the plot, the cast, the writers, what they had for lunch, their cholesterol levels, etc. 

Wireless earbuds — Goodness knows we all need more invisible waves of electromagnetic energy aimed at our heads, but these wireless earbuds are a bad idea. For starters, anyone using these looks as if they have half a Q-tip sticking out of their ear. And let's be honest, you're going to lose them. The wires on traditional earbuds act as a sort of buddy system to help keep the gang together. 

Keep your phone audio to yourself — The ability to stream movies and shows via smartphone is great, but if you're in a restaurant, the people in the booth next to you may not want to hear a sword fight from “Game of Thrones” while dining on their tiramisu. If you must be inundated with bright images and audio at all times, invest in some earbuds — but not the wireless kind.


Jon Dawson's humor columns are published weekly by Neuse News. Contact Jon at and

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