By Anna Post
Early this summer I read the results of a tech etiquette survey that Intel did with Harris Interactive and shared some of my thoughts about it with you. As fate would have it, I was lucky enough to collaborate recently with Intel on their Tech Tea, a press event held in October at the Russian Tea room in New York City.
The focus of the event was to release the results of a second tech etiquette survey done with Harris, this one focusing in part on the etiquette of mobile device use at the holidays, and to invite the press to join in a discussion of technology etiquette. I spoke at the event on a panel with Dr. Genevieve Bell, Intel’s cultural anthropologist (pictured with me, above), about the survey results and tech etiquette in general, and then we opened the discussion to the room.
The survey was a springboard for some great conversation with the press:
- Is it okay to use a use a laptop or cell phone while in a public bathroom? Everyone at the Tech Tea agreed: no way! But a whopping 75 percent of survey respondents thought it was perfectly appropriate.
- Can you
use a mobile device during a date? A sensible 60 percent said no, and I
agree: Your date deserves all of your attention.
- Does business today demand you be connected all the time? 55 percent agreed, and I think a number split down the middle like that suggests both a yes and no answer, something I would agree with. It depends on the situation, and on how we choose to react to it.
Dr. Bell nailed it when she said, "The social rules for new technologies are continuing to be established across cultures and geographies around the world, and etiquette will continue to change and adapt over time along with it." I couldn’t agree more, though I do hope we trend away from taking a phone call while in a public bathroom stall!
The Intel survey also took a look at how we use technology around the holidays. Since it’s that time of year, here are a few of the survey results, as well as some extra tips to get you through the season—and ensure you’ll be invited back.
- Offline etiquette 101: Be on time
for family dinners. No one likes waiting while the food gets cold!
- To keep airport security lines running smoothly, 36 percent agree you should
skip using mobile devices until you
clear security. You need to pay attention, and your line-mates will thank you
for being ready when it’s your turn.
- No texting or app use at the table!
A majority of hosts would be offended to find a guest surreptitiously checking
a mobile device under the table. Leave them off and in your coat or bag, and
wait until after everyone is up from the table to check your email or the ball
game score. Are you the host? It's okay to announce
"phones off!" with a smile at the beginning of the meal.
- 87 percent agree: Never
text or make a call during a religious service. If you really (really,
really) must, first discreetly step outside.
- Even though 88 percent of respondents say they wouldn’t mind an emailed thank you instead of a handwritten note for a gift, I’m going to hold firm and suggest you pull out the pen and paper: Sometimes the medium is the message, and this one says they and the gift they gave you are worth the time and effort of a personal note. (Though an emailed one is certainly better than none!)