Don't be that guy: How to use your tech in public

Congratulations. You have a smartphone and a tablet. Here's how to use them without making everybody mad.

Techies behaving badly

Technology isn’t responsible for the decline of civility and manners, but it sure hasn’t helped any. If anything, it’s made it easier to be obnoxious in public. With that in mind, we compiled a list of annoying tech habits that you really should get over. Like, yesterday.

Don’t walk while distracted...

Walk down the street in any big city’s downtown area and you’ll see plenty of people with their heads down as they stare at their phones. Worse still, you may see some engrossed by their tablets. It’s a wonder there aren’t more instances of oblivious pedestrians colliding on the sidewalk or walking into oncoming traffic and getting crunched.

For your own safety, either stop walking and move to the side to do what you’re doing, or put your phone in your pocket and look at it later. It can wait.

...But do get out of the way

Thank you for stopping to fiddle with your phone instead of walking around with your head down, like a beachcomber on Broadway. But please, don't park yourself right in the middle of a busy sidewalk. Instead, stand to the side, por favor.

Your musical taste is bad, and you should feel bad

You may think Miley Cyrus is a great artiste, but you won't convince too many people by blaring a YouTube video of “Party in the USA” on crappy, tinny smartphone speakers while in public. So take the opportunity to make the world a better place: Pick up a pair of headphones or earbuds, and instantly improve the disposition of your fellow travelers.

The same goes for speakerphone

Listening to one side of a loud and heated phone conversation is bad enough. Listening to both sides is even worse. Turn off speakerphone in public or communal places, and spare everyone around you from having to hear the grim details of your marital discord.

Down in front!

Taking photos with tablets may be slouching toward social acceptability, but few things are more annoying than having someone hold a tablet up to take a photo—and block everyone else’s view in the process. If possible, for the sake of others, use a smaller device.

Nobody likes a creep

Taking creep shots of people. Posting creep shots of people. Never ever do this. If you're tempted to take photos of strangers in order to make fun of them, resist the urge. Everyone has done it at one point or another. But it's not nice.

Enjoy the show. No, really.

Why spend money to attend a show if you’re going to spend half the time staring at your phone? Using your phone while sitting in the audience at a movie theater or at the symphony or at a musical is distracting to the people around you. Put your phone in airplane mode, and tuck it away in your pocket. Don't make your ejection from the theater the biggest applause line of the evening.

Give the cashier your full attention

Is it your turn at the checkout counter? If so, pause what you're doing on your gadget, speak to the clerk like one human being to another, and then resume your other business after the in-person transaction is complete.

Have your virtual card at the ready

If you use an app on your phone to assist in completing certain transactions (a Starbucks gift card in Passbook, for example), have your phone out and the app open before you get to the counter. Don't make everyone wait while you dig out your phone, unlock it, track down and open the app, and find your rewards card. That’s just not cool.

Give good service some love

Working retail is hard way to earn a living, and sales clerks often rely on the extra income they get from sales commissions. Don’t take advantage of a skilled salesperson’s knowledge only to whip out your phone and buy the thing on Amazon just to save a few bucks. It's bad form, even if you don't do it right in front of the person. Good service deserves your patronage.

Don’t get too comfy

Don't video chat, or play your music, or view disturbing or adult images or videos when you're on the laptop at the coffee shop. No Skype at Starbucks. No porn at Peet's. It's not your living room or office, even if you spend a lot of time "working" there.

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