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Cell Phone Rudeness - WWYD?

PizzagirlPizzagirl 40174 replies320 threads Senior Member
Last night, I attended an event designed to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding. This one was titled the Ramadan Experience and was held at a prominent Presbyterian church downtown. The event was as follows: We were in a church auditorium; the minister said a few words, then introduced an imam. The imam spoke, gave some details about better understanding Ramadan. We then saw some traditional Islamic art, listened to Islamic music, and then adjourned for a traditional Islamic dinner where we met people of all faiths. I give these details so you understand the context.

I attended with 3 older women - my mother and two friends of hers, so women in their mid-70's. We were sitting in this order: Me, my mother, woman A, woman B. As the imam was speaking, woman B pulled out her cell phone and started silently playing on it - checking FB, texting and the like. These were open chairs, placed far apart, and we were in the second row, very visible to the speakers, event organizers and anyone else in the first few rows. My mother tried to motion with her hand to put that away, but B didn't pay any attention. She must have done this for 10 minutes of the speech.

We were really livid and had steam coming out of our ears. This was just completely rude behavior as far as we were concerned. Where were her manners?

There was no emergency. I'm married to an obstetrician who IS on call and needs to keep his cell phone on vibrate and he would absolutely have quietly left the room if he needed to talk to the hospital.

If it had been my kid, I would have given him the Eye of Death and told him to cut it out. Heck, I would have given my mother the Eye of Death if she'd pulled out her phone :-)

What should we have done? What would you all have done?
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Replies to: Cell Phone Rudeness - WWYD?

  • SouthFloridaMom9SouthFloridaMom9 3416 replies30 threads Senior Member
    I would have felt exactly the same! Not sure what I would have done, though . . . probably nothing. :/
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  • garlandgarland 16432 replies206 threads Senior Member
    So rude! I guess it's up to your mom or the other friend to say something. I'd avoid situations like that with her in the future. But why did she go if she was going to behave like that? :(
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  • TatinGTatinG 7160 replies118 threads Senior Member
    Nothing you could or should have done. People have a low boredom threshold. If she was bored by the speeches, she no doubt wanted to be somewhere or do something else. I've seen this done at large dinners, lectures and graduations. People look at their phones while having a one on one conversation.
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  • powercropperpowercropper 1768 replies75 threads Senior Member
    Sitting in the second row, I think it would have been difficult to address the situation without causing further distraction. I agree that it was rude behavior. At this point, with such an elderly person probably set in their ways, there is not much point in bringing it up.

    I would, however, remember her behavior and maybe choose not to invite her next time you attend a similar type event.
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  • nottellingnottelling 4269 replies60 threads Senior Member
    It was completely rude, but there was really not much you could have done in the moment.

    I suppose afterwards you could have asked her if everything was okay, since there apparently had been an "emergency" that required her attention during the speech. I normally hate passive-aggressiveness, so maybe a better approach would have been to say, afterward, "That was rude!" Maybe she would think twice the next time.

    But it is impoosible to control other people's behavior.
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  • dadxdadx 2644 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Seems your saying it was silent, and frankly not all that distracting (except to people directly near her). I agree its moderately rude.

    Maybe the imam will simply remember it as a point of reference when the Christian clergy visit the mosque to explain their customs.

    I'm guessing the woman in question didn't want to be there in the first place, but for some reason wasn't able to say no.
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  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40174 replies320 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2016
    Good hypothesis, but not true in this case -- indeed, my mother and I had signed up for this, and Woman B got excited when she heard about us going and bought a ticket for herself. She is part of a group of women in that age range who often go to cultural events of this nature and really thrive on them as a main activity. And she was fully engaged in the discussions at dinner. In fact, at the end of the evening, we had to pull the car around and text her that we're leaving now :-) So no, this wasn't a case of someone dragged along to an event they weren't interested in.

    Not that it matters, and not that the imam would know anyway, but she was Jewish. It just so happened the event took place at the Presbyterian church, but it was explicitly for people of all faiths, or none. And no, she wasn't "making a statement" about not paying attention to a Muslim speaker. It was just garden-variety rudeness.
    edited June 2016
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  • doschicosdoschicos 26311 replies265 threads Senior Member
    Older people are just as prone to cell phone addiction as younger people. I see it frequently. A good friend of my mother who is in her 80s is constantly pulling out her phone in social settings. My mom and the rest of the group give her crap about it but she does it anyway. It's an issue IMO and one that cuts across the generations.
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  • C3BakerC3Baker 729 replies3 threads Member
    I love the categorization of the behavior as "garden-variety rudeness". :))

    Sounds like the kind of thing you would expect more from a teenager than from a woman in her 70s, though! I agree there isn't much you could have done at the time. I really wonder if people even realize how rude it is.
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  • jrcsmomjrcsmom 926 replies24 threads Member
    Throughout school my son was involved in choir. Twice each year (in the winter and in the spring) the performing arts department would organize big joint concerts for the junior high and high school choirs and junior high and high school bands that would last a few hours.

    My son's dad always made the effort to travel the 40 miles or so from his house to be there. And I was grateful that he was an involved dad. But then he'd be on his phone, often doing something silly like playing Angry Birds, during the entire concert.

    I'd always make some 'snarky' comment like 'It's really a shame after all the work these kids put into preparing for this, some audience members aren't respectful enough to pay attention', but then he's my ex, so I'm allowed to make snarky comments ;)
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  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40174 replies320 threads Senior Member
    I think it was the impoliteness that bothered me more than the distraction. I mean, I get if we were in some packed auditorium and you were in the back and the seats were high and it wasn't visible and you could attend to something surreptitiously and no one would be the wiser. It's not like I've never checked in on Facebook during an event!

    It was the obviousness of it that bothered me. She didn't even have the good graces to try to put her handbag on her lap and shield it or anything, if that makes sense.
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  • dadxdadx 2644 replies9 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2016
    I love the categorization of the behavior as "garden-variety rudeness".

    Reminds me of the quote that "A gentleman is someone who never is rude to anyone unintentionally".

    Do you think your reaction to your friend's cell phone use would be about the same if she took out a small book and started to read it? It seems similar to me, but somehow not quite as bad. In any case, I think somehow cellphones have a different character than other types of distractions.
    edited June 2016
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  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40174 replies320 threads Senior Member
    That's a great question, dadx. I agree with you, it seems similar, but not quite as bad. I don't know, maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I was just raised that there were times you shut up and paid attention! This was not some excessively long speech. The man was an engaging speaker (and even if he hadn't been, I say if you're bored, you let your mind drift).
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  • nottellingnottelling 4269 replies60 threads Senior Member
    Reading a book seems worse to me.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 26311 replies265 threads Senior Member
    "Do you think your reaction to your friend's cell phone use would be about the same if she took out a small book and started to read it? It seems similar to me, but somehow not quite as bad. In any case, I think somehow cellphones have a different character than other types of distractions."

    Not for me they don't. I hate how everyone is on their phones constantly. We survived without them for all but the last 10-20 years of history so why is it currently a "necessity" to check one's phone constantly. We're not that important. If you need to do so at a dinner for example, excuse yourself and go do so privately. It's a real pet peeve of mine (obviously :) )and it frustrates me that its become so commonplace, that there seems to be so little stigma attached to it.
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  • collage1collage1 2023 replies75 threads Senior Member
    I would have been very uncomfortable and I certainly would not include her in events where she might exhibit the same behavior -- I do understand she wasn't 'invited' to this one; she just heard you and your mom were attending and bought her own ticket.

    In all likelihood, particularly because she is the generation above me, I'm sure I would have let it go. Alternatively, if I had had the nerve (very doubtful), I would have said, as gently as I knew how, to say something like, 'this is awkward for me to broach but I'd like to share with you that I felt uncomfortable when you were on your phone during the iman's talk, particularly because I'm sure he could see you and it felt disrespectful.'. As I say, I'm not even sure if I'd feel comfortable saying this to a friend my own age...really, people have the right to do what they want. I guess I'd wonder if she realized how disrespectful she was being and, if she's normally a person I wouldn't think of as disrespectful, I'd wonder if she'd actually appreciate the feedback.

    Sorry you were in this position.
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  • nottellingnottelling 4269 replies60 threads Senior Member
    But reading a book? I was at a dinner party 30 years ago and someone started reading a book at the table. It was so breathtakingly rude I still can picture the person, where they were sitting at the table, what they were wearing. It is certainly much less common!
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  • nottellingnottelling 4269 replies60 threads Senior Member
    Maybe your mom's friend was live tweeting the event! ;)
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  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40174 replies320 threads Senior Member
    I interpreted dadx's post 13 as saying that the book seemed similar, but not as bad / rude as the cellphone. Is that how everyone else interpreted it?
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