After reading about the explosions in London, I was intrigued by a NY Times article about Cell Phone Etiquette. The article is generally well-written, and addresses workplaces as the new battleground over what is and isn't appropriate use of a cell phone. I found it shocking the number of places people were willing to take calls - during meetings, while being treated at a doctor's office, while lecturing a class or leading a seminar. I agree that there are borderline situations, like driving in a car, or waiting for a table at a restaurant, but it seems to me these are situations where it is blatantly rude to ignore the immediate context for a phone call - isn't that why they come with voicemail?
I've avoided having a cell phone so far, mainly because of the expense, and free access to landlines most of the time. There have been times, though, that a cell phone would have been useful. Cell phones make it easier to contact people when you're en route to see them, going to be a little late, or even when you just have a few moments in between activities. They make it easier to check messages when it is convenient, and eliminate the need to take messages for others on a shared landline - a sometimes difficult responsibility. I appreciate the accessibility that cell phones give my often-transient friends.
But I wish people would be more responsible in their cell-phone use. I wish people would remember to turn their phones off at inapropriate times (I'm reminded of Kent's suggestion at the passport worship service that we all prepare ourselves for the cell phone that will inevitably go off. One did). It seems that there are a lot of times when the person in front of you should take priority over the person calling. As I look ahead one month I realize I'll have to turn my own aversion to poor cell etiquette into personal fastidiousness when I purchase my first cell phone plan. I'm still hashing out what is and isn't acceptable behavior. I know that nextel 2-way is almost always the most obnoxious thing I have ever heard, and answering a cell in class (especially one you are teaching) is almost never apropriate. Perhaps my readers (and maybe my callers) can help me determine what is and isn't good use of a new media.