Technology has given us more freedom than we've ever had before. We can book flights, pay our bills, share vacation photos and order food in just a few taps on our smartphones or tablets. But now that practically everyone owns a mobile device of some kind, we're using them much more often — and picking up some nasty habits in the process. Raise your hand if you've seen these awful behaviors — then use it to smack the offender the next time around.
Photos by Jeremy Lips.
Too often, people with earbuds stuck in their ears attempt to hold a conversation, whether they're talking to friends, checking out at the supermarket or chatting with colleagues in the office. You need to stop it. Not taking the headphones off signals to those around you that they're not important enough to deserve your attention.
Maybe they have a problem with needing to have the last word. Or perhaps they tend to forget that other people need to get stuff done. But for whatever reason, there are people who don't know when to quit replying to everyone in an email chain or group text message. When more and more recipients write, "How about you take this offline?" that's a not-so-subtle hint you've gone too far. Another hint: Seeing "TAKE ME OFF THIS CHAIN" texts.
Remember when we could wait 30 seconds at a crosswalk without whipping out our phones? That's bad enough. But when the light turns green, a lot of people continue to text or look down at their devices. It's not just annoying; it's dangerous. It's even worse when people stop dead in their tracks, whether they're on the street or heading down the subway stairs. You deserve to get run over.
You've seen them at soccer games, recitals and other places where they look ridiculous: people who use tablets instead of phones to record videos. While it's nice that tablets give you a bigger field of view, you also wind up blocking the view of people sitting behind you. Plus, smartphones almost always have sharper cameras.
It's great that you killed it in "Candy Crush" or "Clash of Clans." Now, put your phone on mute. There's no need for everyone in your vicinity to hear every bloop, grunt or tire screech spilling out of your device. Yes, that means you, annoying kids (and adults) at my daughter's karate practice.
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Somewhere along the line, parents just gave up on trying to engage their kids (or keep them in line) while out to eat. I recently picked up food to go at an Olive Garden and witnessed a family of four waiting — and all four were deeply engrossed in their own phones. (The two kids had earbuds on.) Here's a thought: Everyone look up from your gadgets and maybe talk about your day. The same thing goes for your date night. If you're just going to sit across from each other and check your Instagram, you might as well just go home.
When your smartphone's navigation app takes you off course five times in 10 minutes and sends you down a one-way street, it's OK to rely just a wee bit more on your own internal compass. At some point, everyone in the car is going get tired of hearing "Recalculating." So, get a clue or (gasp!) ask for directions.
Call me nutty, but I'm not a fan of hearing your barking dog or the latest episode of "CSI: Miami" when someone is trying to speak during a conference call. Every smartphone has a mute button that's a single tap or two away, so there's no excuse not to use it. Can't find it? Hang up.
You know there's a selfie epidemic when smartphone makers start touting their front cameras more than their back ones. And we're feeding that obsession by taking and posting so many photos of ourselves. A recent study linked selfies to narcissism, addiction and mental illness. Don't worry about getting the perfect shot, because no one is going to like your eighth self-portrait of the day on Facebook anyway.
First came annoying ringtones, and now this. I get that most people would much rather text or use WhatsApp than talk. The problem is that many smartphone owners don't turn off those grating notification sounds. Every incoming alert is another opportunity for your phone to beep, whistle or (for those who still own one) scream "Droid."
It's no secret that smartphones carry more germs than a toilet seat, and why wouldn't they? We can't stop using them while we go to the bathroom. In fact, a 2013 survey by LG revealed that three quarters of smartphone owners would feel comfortable using their device in a public restroom. Well, I don't feel comfortable with you typing away in the next urinal. I'd rather you pay less attention to fixing your typos than, you know, aiming straight.
I'm not going to judge you if you like to blare "Talk Dirty" when you're by yourself. But I definitely don't want to hear your dope playlist while I'm trying to enjoy a rare moment of quiet on the elevator. The subway or bus is another no-no. The entire car doesn't want to be invited to your impromptu dance party. So, just turn it down, or get headphones that don't leak as much as Edward Snowden.
Photos by Jeremy Lips.