You're sitting in the Quiet Car on the train, trying to clear your mind before a busy day at work. Most people are respecting the rules, with their phones on silent and headphones in. But behind you, someone is texting. His phone doesn't ring, but it's still an audio torture session. Every letter he touches causes the clicking typewriter sound effect. Every email he sends gets a "SWOOSH." You want to bang your head against the window, lest you wring his neck.
Cell phones are ubiquitous in the world, but cell-phone etiquette is certainly not. There are some basic rules you really need to follow, no matter the situation. To do otherwise is annoying, disruptive to others, and downright disrespectful.
Here are tips on how to show cell-phone courtesy to your neighbors, colleagues, friends, and everyone else:
Keep your phone on vibrate as a default.
This is the easiest way to avoid an embarrassing ring at the wrong time. If you always keep your phone on vibrate, you don't have to worry about remembering to silence the noise later. Only turn the noise on when you need it.
The rules DO apply to you.
When you're on a bus, they make an announcement about cell phone use at the beginning of every ride. They're talking to YOU! Are you in the silent section of the library? Then BE QUIET. Don't whisper into the microphone, explaining how you're in the quiet car so you can't talk. If you know you're going to have to take a call at some point, don't sit in a designated quiet area in the first place. If it's critical, excuse yourself and come back when you're done. You'd be annoyed if someone else were breaking the rules, so you shouldn't do it either.
Silence the sound effects.
Even if your phone is on silent, it may not silence all the sound effects on your phone. There are still typing sounds, email sounds, even text message sounds, for both sending and receiving. And the sound effects on the game you're playing are positively awful. If you're in a quiet area, turn off EVERYTHING. Really, if you're anywhere in public, you should turn off all those extra sound effects. It's incredibly annoying, and your duck quack notification is not as cute as you think it is.
Headphones don't cure all noises.
First of all, if you don't have headphones, DO NOT listen to anything. It doesn't matter if you "keep it super low," or put it up next to your ear. It's the height of rudeness, and there's no excuse. Second, remember that just like silencing your ringtone, using headphones doesn't necessarily eliminate external sound effects. Make sure the clack and swoosh are only audible to you.
Watch the volume level.
You heard it here first -- or didn't: I fear most regular headphone users are going to go deaf. Scientists say you should always keep the volume under 60 percent. Anything higher than that, and you run the risk of permanent ear damage. Worse yet, volume that high means everyone else can hear what you're listening to, even if you're using headphones.
Don't use your speakerphone in public.
This one baffles me. No one wants to hear your private conversations, and you shouldn't want to divulge that information either. It's disruptive and uncomfortable for the people around you. And remember that sound carries, so even if you think you have plenty of space, you may not.