Switched to silent…

Posted on September 3, 2013

Modern etiquette is evolving to work with our interconnected lives. When should things [electronics] be turned on or off? when can they be on, but silent etc?

Train carriages are the front line of modern etiquette warfare; for some its a place to do business and get things done,  for others it is a great excuse to be unplugged. The rules on politeness are not as defined here as in say a restaurant. For instance, if you need to take an important call during dinner, you probably don’t do it at your table annoying those around you. Physical limitations of trains, and a lack of seat choice preclude moving away from a ‘temporary travel companion’ to take a call, so artificial lines of politeness have to be drawn for us. It feels like this is partially because technology, and in particular the current level of connectivity, is still a social novelty. We are all learning how and when it is socially acceptable to use our technology.  In the future will ‘physically social’ bind with ‘technologically social’ in a way that is seamless? Perhaps the awkwardness of having to tell people when to switch their electronics to silent will become something similar to a toddler who has yet to learn to control the volume of their voice, and Quiet zones such as this will be delineated by our innate perception of social norms.