The times, they are a’changing. And with those changes come adjustments to our social behaviors and what we define as rude. By the time you’re 50, you probably think you know how to behave, but with technology and social mores changing our lives every day, there are a few new rules of etiquette that might have escaped your notice. Got any others? Let us know in comments.
1. Keep your cell calls private.
This one feels like a tired old drum beat already, doesn’t it? But as long as there are cell phones, there will be people who are oblivious. You know those signs in doctors’ office, restaurants, movies and train cars that tell you cell phone use is not permitted? Spoiler alert: Yes, they mean you.
The more ubiquitous cell phones are — and pretty much everybody has one now — the more abuses we see. There is just such a simple solution: Turn it off in public places. That’s right: OFF. You lived for decades without being instantly reachable and you can survive being unreachable for a few hours.
People who speak loudly on their cells don’t impress; they annoy. Want to know what impresses? Books do. Check out the Instagram account “Hot Dudes Reading,” which captures men reading paperbacks on the New York City subway. Kindles need not apply.
2. Don’t bring weed to a party without permission.
In some social circles, joints have replaced wine as the perfect hostess gift. With marijuana being in the news so often, some may be surprised to hear this, but recreational marijuana use is not legal everywhere yet. Colorado, Washington and the District of Columbia have approved recreational use of marijuana, but the federal law does not. That means bringing weed to your neighborhood potluck may not be the thoughtful contribution you intended it to be should the host’s brother happen to be a policeman.
While the country is moving toward legalization of pot, it isn’t there yet. Ask your host first if it’s OK. Or, just stick to a bottle of vino.
3. Walk slowly if you carry a big selfie stick.
Selfie sticks are quickly becoming emblematic for all that is wrong with the world. For those who live under a rock, a selfie stick is a device that essential stretches your arm reach so that you can get a better shot of yourself.
People: Selfies are wrong. Selfie sticks are wronger. When you are armed with a selfie stick, you are oblivious to your surroundings and other people. When you bop them accidentally and giggle that you’re “sorry,” you go from being a mere annoyance to a nincompoop armed with a weapon.
To start with: Life is not really all about you, you, you and how much fun you are having at the moment. If you insist that you must have a photo of yourself in front of the 7-Eleven, grab a stranger and ask if they’d mind snapping one for you with your camera. Laugh, joke, make a new friend. That or at least watch where the heck you swing your stick before you hit someone who threatens to shove it up your you-know-what.
4. Don’t post a photo of someone else without their permission.
It’s great to be able to photograph every minute of our lives and share it instantly with the world. But please don’t post someone else’s picture without asking first. You may look great; they may not. They also may have told the boss they were at a business lunch, not catching up with an old friend.
There is no such thing as privacy online and we all like to give Facebook an earful every time the social media site misuses our information in ways we didn’t agree to. But we invade the privacy of our friends every day when we post photos with our arms around them every day. The photo of your son’s winning soccer team? Notice all the other kids in it? Did you check with their parents?
5. Seriously, you still smoke?
OK, so you are a rebel who thinks all those cancer stats and PSAs with the woman talking through a voice box are just stuff people put out there to annoy you. You know what’s annoying? When you smoke in a car with your arm hanging out the window holding your ciggie. It’s also annoying when you stand outside a building puffing up a storm when nonsmokers have to pass you (ever notice how we hold our breath and fan our nose with our hand?).
For many years, smokers have been treated as pariahs. They were banned from public places and sent to the cold dark alley to shiver while they smoked. But then something happened. Maybe teenagers discovered an old James Dean reel and in some circles smoking got hip again.
It is not hip. It is your choice if you want to smoke, but you may not pollute our air with your second-hand smoke. Go away.
6. Be a good guest.
A good guest RSVPs by the deadline because he sets a Google Calendar reminder to do so. A good guest isn’t late because she’s checked traffic on WAZE and knows she will need an extra 20 minutes to get there. A good guest uses her GPS and doesn’t show up an hour late claiming to have gotten lost. A good guest never sends a last-minute text saying he doesn’t feel well and can’t come.
And smart hosts know this.