Tuesday, January 10, 2012

mobile manners!

frustrated by the person in the LIBRARY talking at full-tilt on their mobile phone? what about at family gatherings where you are trying to enjoy (yes i said enjoy) the company of your distant loved ones...except for you-know-who who is unable to tear himself and his thumbs away from his texting? and, ehem, are you sometimes that guy?

today i joined matt galloway on toronto's metro morning show
http://www.cbc.ca/metromorning/episodes/2012/01/10/mobile-manners/ and wei chen of ontario morning http://www.cbc.ca/ontariomorning/episodes/2012/01/10/mobile-manners/to discuss just that.

i highlighted research done here in toronto that shows an embeddedness of mobile technologies in the way that we communicate. it is not that these devices are causing us to walk into street poles while texting, but it is an increasing desire to be constantly connected that these devices are satisfying.

so what about manners and etiquette regarding mobile phones? rich ling and i wrote a paper about it that you can find on my website under publications. in it we discuss that what we do versus what we ought to to in a given social situation is considered relative to social norms. in the decision moment we rapidly compare our behavior to what others are doing in similar situations. the problem with mobile phone use is that the social norms are still emerging and often what we ought to do in a given moment depends on our interpretation of who is around and the value that we place on answering versus not answering.
in fact, it is a matter of prioritization - does the co-present person take precedent or does the person on the other end of that connection? what if the value is the same?

in addition, we have expectations around response that muddy the waters. if your normal response time to your loved one is under 1 minute on a text message, if you take 10 minutes to respond this time will they worry? and the same thing goes for the workplace - in many places there an expectation to respond right away to a request for information, so what does it mean for you if you choose to wait?

if you are intrigued by these questions, read the paper (Ling & McEwen, 2010). http://individual.utoronto.ca/rmcewen/publications.html