Top 10 Cell Phone Etiquette Rules People Still Break

Written by Mobilecommandos

Do we really still need to talk about this? You’d think with over a decade of experience under our belts along with our inherent delusions of hyper sophistication that we’d have figured things out by now. But the sad truth remains: cell-phone douche-baggery is worse than ever! In terms of maturity levels, many of us rank amongst toddlers, interrupting anyone and anything with our loud nonsense, our little fingers obsessively pushing buttons with what’s left of our attention spans constantly distracted by various bells, whistles, and bright colors on tiny screens. This ridiculous need to be in touch with all people at all times is getting out of hand, and while we think we are staying more connected with each other, we are in fact treating those closest to us like China treated the Mongols. We’re building giant walls people! The following are basic cell phone rules of etiquette which people still can’t seem to follow. In fact, they should be called “How to use your common sense and remain polite in a human society.” Read them, learn them, and absorb them into your system as you would the vitamins from a mango smoothie.


1. Talking too loudly.

“YES! FOR THE LOVE OF BABY JESUS, WE CAN HEAR YOU NOW!” For some bizarre reason people feel the need to raise their voices while on their phones. I think we’ve come far enough, technologically speaking, to trust the phone’s microphone to adequately amplify and carry your voice. Your mouth couldn’t physically be any closer to the microphone, so unless you’re talking into it from a Captain Kirk distance or calling in an airstrike while under heavy machine gun fire, there’s no need to yell. Hell, even Kirk never raised his voice and he was communicating with an alcoholic Scotsman on a space ship!

Note: There are attention-seekers out there who speak loudly on purpose to “show off” recent accomplishments and victories to impress surrounding strangers. Do not hate on them too much, they were probably adopted and are cursed to constantly seek approval from anyone within earshot.

2. Holding inappropriate conversations in public.

No one needs to hear how wasted you were last night, or what color your boyfriend’s boxers were on the night the two of you, um, “played Scrabble.” Keep your personal conversations personal. If you don’t want people to see you crying in line at the bank or while ordering a stuffed-crust pizza, refrain from having emotional conversations in public. Offer to call the person back, step outside, or find a quiet place where you can openly and unabashedly describe your new foot fungus.

3. Rudely interrupting conversations.

Have you ever felt the only way to maintain a conversation with the person right in front of you is to give them a call? Ever arrive at the climax of a hilarious story, only to have the momentum ruined by “Sorry, I gotta take this”? Why is the disembodied voice of someone else more important than the flesh and blood standing before you? It’s very frustrating to stand around waiting while your “friend,” date, or family member gets into a phone conversation on your time. When this happens, I recommend simply walking away. Even when you’re sitting in a restaurant, if your date would rather chat with someone else, then you should get up and leave immediately to find someone else. Or, as I mentioned earlier, call them on their other line. “Hey, how’s it going? How’s your sea bass? Isn’t the wine delicious?” If you can’t beat ’em, call ’em.

4. Checking your phone at the movies.

Movie theatre announcements and people who are quick to “shhhh” have done a decent job of reducing reducing cell phone rings over the years. But people are still checking their calls and text messaging rfiends, silently, but equally annoyingly. There’s a reason why we spend an arm and a leg to watch movies in the theatre. When the lights go out and the screen lights up, we try to forget our everyday troubles and we submerse ourselves into whatever the hell world we bought tickets for. We escape. But when out of the corner of our eyes we see someone’s entire face light up while they check their phone messages, we’re yanked right back to reality and are reminded of how many jerks per square foot there are in the world. Turn your phones off, have a little consideration for the people around you. The world won’t stop spinning if you’re unavailable for 2 hours. “But what if there’s an emergency?” The odds of an actual emergency occurring are astronomical. Besides, if there was an emergency, it already happened. You already weren’t there, and chances are the people who could actually do anything about it, already have.

5. Texting while driving.


Somebody please get the “Darwin Awards” on the phone. Of course, if you’re driving when you do, make sure you’re on hands free or have pulled over before you start explaining how there are people who send texts while behind the wheel of a vehicle. According to a Harvard University study, cell phones cause over 200 deaths and half a million injuries each year. And that’s with eyes on the road! Laws are in place to make sure people aren’t talking on their phones, and yet people are typing?!?! (I very rarely use the double question mark with the double exclamation point at the end of sentences, but this is ridiculous) I would love to see the tombstone: Was LOL when he WCTTFW (Went crashing through the freaking windshield) Anyone caught texting while driving should be stripped of their driving license forever.

6. Texting while talking.

You ever have someone try to listen to your story while text messaging someone else? You want to give them points for making the effort as they clumsily insert “oh yeahs” and “un huhs” at all the wrong moments, cutting you off mid-sentence with a “no way” as they furiously thumb type in your face, but at the same time you want to volleyball spike their phone to the ground for being unbelievably rude. A third option is tell better stories.

7. Texting small talk.

Does our friendship mean nothing? Have we become so lazy and disinterested in each other’s lives that we’re asking people to sum up their days with a text? “How r u?” “What’s up?” “What’s new?” These arbitrary questions are annoying enough when asked in person, but at least we have the ability to fire back equally insignificant responses in one second or less. But expecting people to waste their time typing “not bad, u?” or “same sh*t” or heaven forbid “let me tell you about my day” is about as lame and pointless as your appendix.

8. Loud and annoying ringtones.

I was riding the bus to work one morning, when out of nowhere the silence was shattered with screaming. It was the type of scream a frat boy lets out when a serial killer is in the process of gutting him with a fountain pen. I just about had a cardiac arrest and many of the people on the bus jumped out of their seats. It was only when the repetitive screaming suddenly tripled in volume that we all discovered the culprit: a cell phone. Some jerk pulled the phone out of his pocket, embarrassed at how loud it was, and accidentally dropped it on the bus floor. The joke now on him, the whole bus watched in amusement as this dude’s face grew redder and redder, scrambling to pick up and silence the screams coming from his phone. While there are far too many stupid ringtones out there to mention here, the story makes the point: turn down your stupid ringtone! No one thinks you’re clever, or funny, or musically savvy when you’re little pocket jukebox interrupts their thoughts. That guy on the bus probably thought his scream-tone was hysterical, but the looks on everyone else’s face read loud and clear: “What a douche bag!”

9. Disturbing live performances.

Comedy shows, concerts, plays etcโ€ฆNothing boils my blood more than having art ruined by a ringing cell phone. I nearly gave a security guard a standing ovation when he grabbed a gentleman by the collar and escorted him out of a Cirque du Soleil show for having his cell phone go off during a particularly dangerous acrobatic stunt. You ruin someone’s comedy act or interrupt an actor on stage, in turn spoiling the experience for everyone around you who’s spent their hard earned money on a night out, and you’re an arrogant douche-monkey who should be put in the corner with the rest of the 5 year olds. But when you disturb a performer who’s very life depends on needle-point focus and concentration, you should be put in jail.

10. Location location location

There are countless locations where “taking the call” is inappropriate and extremely annoying to those around you. The first two off the top of my head as the most frustrating are in libraries, and fast food restaurant lines. One of the last places on earth, aside from an empty church or your own bathroom, where people can go to read, think, and study in silence, is under attack by people who refuse to disconnect from the outside world. Does the word SSSSHHHHH mean nothing to you? Take the call outside, before someone throws “War and Peace” or Stephen King’s “It” at your head.

While ordering food, there’s no need to explain how annoying a phone call can be for both the restaurant staff and for the customers in line behind you. Check out how one Subway restaurant dealt with this problem. Again, if people are going to act like children we need to treat them like children. Well played Subway, well played.


86 thoughts on “Top 10 Cell Phone Etiquette Rules People Still Break

  1. Dr. Rhymeocerous

    This was hilarious! I do some of these, i won’t lie, but the movies one takes the cake! Well i’m sure with phones like the Motorokr you’ll have to add more to the list. But it really is an awesome phone!

  2. Jess

    Yes for number 10! As someone who works at a coffee shop, I cannot express how rude it is when someone refuses to drop the phone for the 10 seconds it takes to make an order and makes me wait for them to finish talking with a line of people behind them. Better yet are the people who make the order through the conversation, “Hey Mike…Yeah…Really?! She did that with me one time, large cream, two sugars, too! How crazy! Are we on for Saturday night?” Someone should not have to decode what the person wants because they can’t be bothered to drop the phone for a second. Don’t even try asking a question if someone is on the phone, not going to get a response.
    Sorry for the rant, but please people, drop the phone when making an order, this is probably my biggest pet peeve at work, and it happens ALL THE TIME!!

    1. Vince

      I AGREE!!!! I work as a cashier at McDonalds and it really ticks me off when people do that.

  3. Cammy

    Grrrr…cell phone etiquette, or a rather the absence of it, is my pet peeve. Do people not realize that they are disconnecting by answering their phones while out with others? At meetings, in restaurants, at the theatre, standing in line…for the love of peace and quiet, enjoy the moment and relax. Sorry, for the rant!

  4. Tony

    THIS LIST IS AMAZING! They express all my pet peeves regarding cellphones. It’s not just texting or talking while driving, but also checking email and watching videos while driving! what the hell is wrong with people! They deserve to crash and have the flames of the wreckage devour their bodies!

    a side note: i hate people who don’t use their turn signal. This goes hand in hand with cellphone usage.

  5. Angelo

    Read it somewhere (forgot exactly):
    about a notice on a restaurant menu:
    “The chef reserves the right
    to deep-fry your mobile :o) “

  6. sarah

    your comment about adopted people was rude and pointless. it makes you seem like the inconsiderate one, compared to the annoying people with cell phones that you’re ranting about.

  7. jma

    Excuse me (altho Sarah kind of beat me to it), but I’m adopted and I do not need to stand around commenting about stuff I’ve done to get approval from total strangers. That was an amazingly insensitive and ignorant comment.

  8. JibbaJabba

    Oh come on… it’s comedy. If your uncle was a monkey would you have had the same reaction to Tim Allen’s act?

    Incosiderate slobs and oversensitive twits are ruining this county.

  9. Helen

    I am a waitress at an airport and every day I have to wait around for some jerk to get off their phone to place an order. It’s funny, actually, because sometimes I like to just “disapear” for awhile and watch them crane their neck around looking for me when they finally get off their effin’ phones. Or sometimes I’ll just walk up while they’re talking and pretend I don’t notice they’re on the phone and say’ “what can I get for you?”. And then the most rude thing will happen-their first finger flies into the air at me and they mouth,”hold on” as they continue their extremely important conversation. Only the customers with any class actually stop talking to order. WTF people? How can we educate society en mass to keep these rude behaviors in check? I think 20/20 needs to do a show on cell phone etiquette to ensure millions will see it.

  10. axewieldingmaniac

    I am also an adopted person and while I take a certain offense to your statement about our “kind” (unloved, disposed of and generally despised by those of you who squirmed out of the woman who was to make your teenage years hell – you lucky people) I would seek to remedy that by you also including: children of immigrants (oh god, your parents struggled; we get it now shut the f*ck up), the children of diplomats (mummy and daddy didn’t love me but their driver did – every friday night) and people who were raised in countries where car mufflers don’t exist (India, most of Africa, half of Europe).
    These poor sods, wallowing in their own tortured reality, are doomed to live a life tragically cut short by a bastard (pun intended) like me brandishing an axe.
    The tragedy, eh? *smirks and gets out sharpening block*

  11. amanda

    Re: #10 –

    There’s a liquor store around here that has a sign that says something along the lines of “if you insist on talking on your cell phone while being rung up, we will add a $5 charge to your bill” – a lot of people are so busy being douchey that they don’t even notice!

  12. Harry Singer

    Most uncivilized behaviour:

    People glued to cell-phones while walking on intersections oblivious to traffic. May be we should start honking at them.

    Guests having their cell phones on the dinning table next to their plate and peeping in for text message once in a while, while talking to hosts/friends at the table.

  13. C.S.

    I hate My life omd omg omg omg its sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo borin seriously!!!!!

  14. Roxanne

    I totally agree with you. You would think people would have a bit more decency when using their cellphones. Itโ€™s hard to have a conversation with most people without being rudely interrupted by a ring or text. The moment never seems to be as important as the information of call you receive on your cell phone. The cellular phone has become deeply integrated into our society and yes, people should have better etiquette. I recently read a blog enrty that refers to theses rude interruptions as โ€œdigital flatulence.โ€ ( The article predicts a social backlash to the increasing frequency of notifications and invasions into our lives. This might be an interesting read.

  15. Agent Cooper

    To the author of this article: you are awesome. Seriously awesome. This was well-written, and dead-on accurate. And I agree with the person who said that 20/20 should do a special about cell-etiquette. I think humanity’s behavior with their phones shows perfectly just how unadvanced we really are. In many ways, the cell phone was the worst invention ever. Great for emergencies… but that’s it.

    Is this what we’ve really become? A nation of babies in constant mundane contact with one another.

  16. Lane

    When I come across a rude cell user while walking the pristine Marginal Way in Ogunquit, I pull out a folding sign and hold it up that says “Warning: Rude Cell Phone User Present”. The reactions I get are amazing and mostly positive, except the cell phone user who turns red and rapidly puts their cell phone away!

  17. Shawty L-O

    Mane let ppl b them. If they wanna tlk loud and have everybody hear their conversation let em. Its their business. U jus do u. Its stupid to try and tell someone what they need to do with their cell phone, which is their personal property/belonging.

  18. Brad Oberwager

    What about when a call is dropped?

    Always the person who dropped the call should make the call back. The Scovill Protocol (what this is called) is very clear because you don’t know how long the dropper is going to be out of range (it could be short tunnel) or a long ride in an elevator.

    Please stick to the Scovill Protocol – whoever dropped the call makes the call back. The droppee (is that a word?) waits.

    And tell everyone so that we can clear it up. And dont worry about the case where both drop the call… very infrequent. Source: Cell Phone Etiquette

  19. KLa

    The absolute worst is when you are in a public restroom and the person in the stall next to you is in the middle of a conversation. It’s happened several times. The last time, I flushed a few times thinking they’d get the hint – nope. She just kept talking and talking.

  20. Graham

    My fiance likes to hold her cell in her hand almost all the time she is awake or at least have it always in view. She even once checked an incoming sms during sex, phones from the table at restuarants, checks her phone whilst others are conversing with her ….. totally obsessed by it. Help!

  21. Simon

    I checked out the video that was in Gerry’s comment. It was great! We can’t really do anything about the adults that have absolutely no common sense when using their cell phone, but we can try to teach the children of our society correct cell phone etiquette. Hold them accountable for their actions! Do not permit them to answer their cell phone while you are having conversations with them. My son must have his phone on silent (not vibrate) when we are having family time, at meals, in stores, etc. The cell phone was created to be a tool not our DICTATOR It frightening that people allow the telephone to rule their lives. I have seen people hurt themselves just trying to get to a landline phone or answer their cell phone. Really people? The technology of voice mail and answering machines was developed so that we didn’t have to kill ourselves or others to get to the phone or answer it while life is happening.

    Remember life is happening and your are missing a great part of it while your ear is glued to the phone!

  22. zinger-girl

    this is very funny. I have to add my pet peeve LOCATION for taking phone calls is in the CAR. It’s the smallest little space and there is no way to get away from other people’s mindless chatter. It’s annoying. Do your calls some other place and don’t pollute my air man!

  23. rick

    People have very little consideration for others anymore. And the people that cannot see how extremely rude and condescending that it is for someone to do this must obviously be a person who would perform this sort of act.
    I once saw a man and his young daughter at a restaurant. The girl may have been 8-10. The father was sitting at the table and carrying on a conversation with someone while his child sat at the table and just look around at people for an entire hour. I almost cried. How horrible.

  24. Linda Velez

    Is it acceptable when invited to a card party that you for a long period of time two people at the table start texting one another and
    other people that are not at the card party?

  25. Joanne Simpson

    I would like to snatch phones from my co-workers (whom are teachers and pricipals) when they answer a call in the middle of a meeting. I am only a teacher and I find this rude, irritating,… We are supposed to be setting examples not encouraging irresponsibilty.


  26. Chris

    Okay, so since this discussion seems to keep going, and right now the Oprah show is talking about Rude People – please ya’ll, turn off the cell phones in funerals! For crying out loud, every single funeral I have been to in the past 3 years, someone’s cell phone rings. BUT then, during at least half of these, the person TOOK THE CALL IN SERVICE! What in the world is really going on!

    I am also incensed by people that I am dining with talking loud and for long periods during our meal.

  27. Coach Jenkins

    I agree with this article 100%. There is a thing called common courtesy! Please have respect for other people. Yes, its true, people should not have to be told what to do with their personal property however, if what you are doing infringes on my personal rights or the rights of others then we have a problem that needs to be addressed. Personal contact trumps phone conversation.

  28. Kenton Johnson

    I hate this cell phone etiquette. It lies and swears too much. I have a cell phone, and its more a tool than a toy. Whoever wrote this needs to live in the ’20’s, or they live in a senior home. This thing sucks

  29. Taylor Murphey

    this is stupid. obviously the person that wrote this has a grudge against cell phones and is getting pissy about them. SUCK IT UP!!! Its really stupid how everyone cares what everyone else does. its prop 8 all over again! Does it really effect you if somebody is carrying on a conversation or texting near you? no. now stop bitching.



  31. Lover

    I work at walgreens and im so sick of people coming in and checking out while they are on thier cell phone. Its like you need to talk to me, so i can ring up thier items its so annoying!

  32. Lover

    I work at walgreens and im so sick of people coming in and checking out while they are on their cell phone. Its like you need to talk to me, so i can ring up their items its so annoying!

  33. Chris

    I agree with most of these… however I have my ringtone loud because I can’t hear it otherwise, sorry if it annoys you but not all of us have good hearing – if only the vibrate function were half as good as it used to be we’d all be happier.

    Err, you know what I mean.

  34. Rob

    What about the dick in the breakroom that feels the need to “two-way” Nextel someone during your lunch. I find that one to be the number one.

  35. Shoe

    1. YES.
    2. Yes.
    3. Yes. How dare they?
    4. More yes
    5. People have admitted to texting me while they’re driving (and I’m safe at home, alone, in my bed, half asleep when I hear the noise. Not in public, so it won’t bother anyone but me), I tell them not to text while they drive. I want my long distance friend to remain not-a-road-smush, so we can continue texting and calling at APPROPRIATE times.
    6. Double yes. Waiting for the teacher (college), when classmates get there early, we start conversations to pass the time, talk about homework, remind each other there is a test coming so don’t be absent (or hope they studied, or give each other notes), and out of the blue, a cell doesn’t ring, no, a classmate, MID-SENTENCE, starts dialing her mother to say hi.
    7. More with the classmates. I guess I’m not interesting.
    8. Ring tones don’t tend to bother ME so much, but it does bother people, so agree on this as well.
    9. Never had this happen before, but YES.
    10. I see people do this all the time. Cashiers/clerks/restaurant-seaters/waitors/etc are people, too.



  37. Mike

    The sad thing is that people have to be told these things and even then it gets dismissed as “Oh well” or “Whatever”. I look at it as, If I wouldn't roll my penis out in that place then I certainly will not be pulling out my phone in that place. A tiny little bit of civility goes a long way.

  38. Eatyourfeedback

    This article was well-written and much needed – now if only my co workers would read it and get a huge clue…

  39. Prylhawk

    Yes, yes, yes! I agree to all of the above! Please get this out to EVERYONE! I was in the library the other day working on some tedious lessons and a lady was on her cell phone for 30 or 45 minutes talking about minial issues. TAKE IT OUTSIDE! I could not concentrate, even after moving away from her twice! I could still hear her. ANNOYING.

  40. Linda

    My friend ends the conversation with “Oh – got to take this call – Bye” all the time. Honestly, it is very annoying and insulting.

  41. Rick

    If you come through my check out line while using your cell phone at Wal-Mart there is a high probability that you will be charged for one of your items twice. Chances are if you are so rude you haven’t learned cell phone etiquette the overcharge will go unnoticed. If not, management is likely to see the matter as a simple error, apologize and refund your money without even addressing their concern to me. Yes it may cause inaccurate inventory but at least the company is making some money instead of losing it as they would to a shoplifter…

  42. summerae

    This was the biggest peice of garbage I’ve ever read. I was looking for a list of etiquette rules for my daughter to read before we get her a cell phone. Not that the general points weren’t valid. Yes you should try not to text and drive. Yes it is rude to talk on your cell phone while in a resturant, but anyone who throws around a dirty term like “douche bag” has no place to teach anyone anything about etiquette. As for checking your phone for text messages in the theater while I understand carrying on a conversation is rude. Give people a break. Some of us have kids. Sending a quick message under your coat or purse and then putting it away isn’t rude. And I personally have been pulled out of a movie via text message from the babysitter informing me that my 4 year old daughter needed stitches. So get off your high horse and make a few allowances here and there. Maybe, and I’m just putting this out there, if we all felt just a little less entitled to get our way all of the time we would, in turn, be a little bit more considerate ourselves.

    1. Sliverbane

      Yes, looking at your bright led screen during the movie is rude – NO MATTER HOW BRIEF!! You were told my the polite warnings to turn off your cell phones and not text. You chose to ignore that for your own selfish reasons. Get off YOUR high horse, Summer. Some of us are not parents and don’t use children as an excuse to disturb other people. If you feel your phone vibrate…get up and get OUT of the auditorium to BEFORE you check your precious message. The message doesn’t magically disappear because you took a minute to step away from your seat. Sit on the end on the isle…or somewhere you can get up. It’s not that hard to plan a head if you have a baby-sitter at home with a rambunctious 4 year old.

  43. Sliverbane

    After a recent trip to Japan I noted that taking or making cell phone calls on train platforms, on the the train and on busses was not allowed. It was awesome.! No annoying ring tones, no loud talking in to the phone. And everyone from teens to the elderly adhered to this rule. I only saw sone guy take a call and he looked mortified for doing it and quickly stuffed his phone in his bag afterward. Many of the ‘whatever’ people have this bizarre sense of entitlement. Your comfort is no concern of theirs. If their rudeness disrupts your day – who cares!? But heaven forbid YOU interrupt something they feel is important. I work at a local University and back in March it was a beautiful spring day…the birds were chirping and a breeze was shaking the trees on campus. It was ideal for my lunch time walk…as I walked around in the shade, suddenly some girls ring tone rang loudly. She answered with an equally loud HELLO? Then proceeded to yell in to her phone and laugh loudly…which created an echo off the near by buildings. EVERYONE in the courtyard turned to look at her. Her volume was completely unnecessary and ridiculous!! I walked up to her and said ‘Take it down a notch Pacino!’ She was so oblivious to what she just did she just looked at me stunned and kept talking in her cell.

  44. j

    Actually, it is considered rude to talk in person on subway trains in Japan. Two friends who are traveling together are expected to go mute until it is OK to talk again.

  45. phoney phone phone

    This article is great. I often wonder why people yell-talk on a cell phone. It’s not two cans connected by a string.

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