Inconsiderate Use of Devices in Public

By Sky Greene

I’m sure it’s happened to most of you. You’re sitting at your favorite coffee shop, minding your own business and suddenly the person at the table next to you starts talking and you snap to attention, trying to understand what he is saying to you, only to realize he is on his phone, which you can’t see because he has one of those stupid ear pieces in that is hidden unless you are staring at his ear. And he’s using his outside voice.

Being in the age of constantly new and changing technology is great. Really, it is. Most of the time. So much info is at our fingertips at any given moment and we can connect with people half way around the world at the click of a button. I love my phone, my computer, and my iPad, but I don’t consider them an extension of myself. They are not essential like my thumbs; something I need and rely on at all times. I have the ability to put my phone down and enjoy my surroundings. I can even power down for an entire week when I am on vacation (gasp)! I’m afraid that more and more individuals are unable do this. It makes me sad.

I recently went to a lovely Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood. It’s not a fancy place by any means. It’s not like I go there specifically for the ambiance or wonderful Mexican music that plays on the speakers throughout the restaurant, but I do enjoy it. In the booth behind my husband and me was a family of four; parents and two boys around the ages of 4 and 6. As soon as the hostess stopped talking after seating us and taking our drink order, I heard it, and it was loud. That damn song “Let it Go!” from Frozen. I was immediately annoyed and wondered why I was hearing it. I knew it was not coming from the speakers in the restaurant. Then it hit me. It was coming from the booth with the family behind us.

I get it, raising kids is difficult. Their attention spans are nil. Parents need to find things to occupy young kids at all times. Kids can’t just sit there and be quiet. Those days are long gone. But really, do parents need to pull out the iPad everywhere they go and play a movie for their kids to watch? Do parents have no respect or awareness of others around them and how plopping down the iPad in front of their kids in public and turning up the volume affects those around them? Like I said, it’s not that I absolutely love the ambiance of the restaurant, but I certainly don’t want to listen to the movie Frozen, or any other movie, while I’m there. Families are at a restaurant like this for 45 minutes, tops. Parents, I beg you-please make an effort to keep your children occupied without turning on a movie or show and disrupting those around you. Bring coloring books, puzzles, something, ANYTHING, that doesn’t make noise. Even a toy truck or car that the kids can push across the table would be better. You can even pull out the iPad or smart phone for the kids to play a game on as long as the sound is turned off.

I’ve encountered similar situations on airplanes, but often with adults instead of kids. We all love Angry Birds, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear someone else’s birds whipping through the air and the pigs making oinking sounds for our 3 hour flight, or the song from Candy Crush over and over. There should be signs hanging in all planes that says ‘Have some common sense and respect for those around you and use ear phones’.

Sure, for those of us that are bothered by these sort of things, we can politely ask for people to turn down their device. But most individuals will only have some snarky remark back at someone when they do ask. I’ve found it is easier to just bite my tongue and deal with it, or move away if possible. Once, when I was super furious because of a loud talker in public on his phone with one of those ear pieces, I said to him, “Excuse me, Sir. You’re talking really loud and look kind of like a crazy person.” And then I walked away. It did shut him up momentarily, and I felt better. The person on the other side of him smiled at me, which I appreciated.

For the restaurant situation, next time I am there, I will survey those around me and ask to be seated elsewhere if I see a family with the iPad already out on the table. If something like this bothers you too, I suggest you do the same unless you have the balls to ask them to turn it off. I applaud you if you do.

Sky Greene is a school counselor, fitness instructor, and author. She writes chick lit and satire. Her book Finding Brynn is currently available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can find more information about Sky, Finding Brynn, and follow her on: