A mobile phone manifesto

It is my heart-warmed and world-embracing Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage (every man and brother of us all throughout the whole earth), may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss, except the inventor of the telephone.

Mark Twain's Christmas greetings, 1890

Disclaimer: I am a wireless user (Ericsson T-60d). I struggle every day to live this manifesto with integrity.

I. Mobile phones are designed to be a convenience in the service of humankind. They serve me; I do not serve them.

A. I will always try to seek alternatives to using a mobile phone, for the constant need of having one is a sure sign my life needs simplifying. Unless I have a job where it is critical that I be easy to get to – medical doctor, hostage negotiator, parent, nuclear power plant safety officer, etc. – I probably do not really need one.

B. I am always conscious that they have a silent setting.

C. I am always conscious that they can be ignored or left at home in a drawer.

II. Mobile phones are often an annoyance to others. I must use this device respectfully. I am aware that others are not interested in my conversations nor are they amused by my device’s cute musical rings.

A. I will not use it in a restaurant.

B. I will silence it or turn it off during plays, movies or other performances; in libraries or museums; during ceremonies; in religious buildings; in cemeteries; or in any other place intended to be enjoyed in silence or reverence.

C. I will adjust my mobile phone’s ringer volume, if possible, to the lowest practical setting. I will use the silent or vibrate mode as much as possible.

D. Abruptly interrupting a face to face conversation is almost always rude, and incoming mobile phone calls are almost always abrupt. Therefore, I will not interrupt a face to face conversation to answer my mobile phone unless absolutely necessary. If the accepting the call cannot be avoided, I will terminate the phone conversation as quickly as possible, and I will apologize profusely to my live companion, for by accepting the phone call I have effectively abandoned them for some faceless, nameless Other.

E. If my mobile phone requires me to speak loudly in order to be heard, I will avoid using it in public whenever practical. I will sequester myself to a secluded place and carry on my conversation where my voice will not disturb others.

F. I will be ever mindful that there are few conversations that cannot wait for a more appropriate time or place. I will use voice mail and call people back when and where it will not be inappropriate to do so.

G. I will never take my phone into the bathroom with me, especially if I have a hands-free model, and continue my conversation while I relieve myself.*

H. I will not leave my mobile phone in a purse, bag, or other container and then abandon it for long periods of time. Meanwhile, my phone rings incessantly to the annoyance of my fellow beings. A coworker at my office does this, and when it happens I start looking for websites selling railguns that take the Discover card and do overnight delivery.

III. No matter what the mobile device manufacturers say, using a mobile phone while driving, operating heavy equipment, or performing any task requiring my full attention and concentration is dangerous.

A. Ever mindful of paragraph II, section E, I will never accept or place a phone call when my full attention is required to perform an active task, such as driving a car. If I have hands-free equipment, I will only accept incoming calls if it is safe to do so. I will not compromise my safety or that of others to take a call.

B. If I must use the mobile phone while performing such a task, I will wait to get in a safe condition first (e.g., parked in a parking lot if in car).

IV. By possessing and using a mobile phone, I implicitly agree to this manifesto in word and in spirit. I agree with and accept any and all consequences the universe or my fellow humans decide to inflict upon me as a result of my irresponsible mobile phone usage. I will serve as an example to other mobile phone users and be as an evangelist -- spreading the good news of this manifesto until telepathy or good sense makes mobile phones obsolete.

*Added 1/15/2002. This one is from experience. I was minding my own business, and this guy sits down in the stall next to mine, gabbing on his cell phone. He was having trouble downstairs, loudly, and did not stop his conversation. I don't know how the person on the other end could have missed it. He was grunting and straining, even. So, don't do that.