Bathroom Etiquette: Smartphone Edition

We're all addicted to our smartphones. But when you enter a public bathroom, it's time to shut it off.

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #355

Let’s face it: we can’t live without our smartphones. I’m guilty of needing my phone at all times. In fact, even when I’m just lounging around my house in shorts or sweatpants, they have to have pockets for my phone. However, I’ve found that there are times where using your smartphone, in public particularly, is not the proper thing to do.

Sure, places like restaurants and during a wedding ceremony come to mind, but also the public setting of a bathroom at work is a key area where phones should be banned. Now, I’m not saying people don’t take their phone with them to the bathroom, and if you do, that’s your business. Here, I’m talking about how people act the same way with their smartphone in the stall as if they were outside for a lovely afternoon stroll: talking loud, goofing off, oversharing, etc. Ugh… these people. So, with that, check out my quick and dirty tips for Bathroom Etiquette: Smartphone Edition.

Tip #1: Sharing Isn’t Caring … It’s Disgusting

In my tenure as Modern Manners Guy, I’ve talked a lotabout bathroom etiquette, even touching on cell phone manners in a blog entry years ago. Hopefully (wink, wink) many of you watched my Mannerly Minute video about Proper Bathroom Etiquette showing some dos and don’ts for the mobile addicts.  In thr video, there was one scene where I was at a urinal, trying to show a friend next to me a photo on my phone.  Now, if you don’t think it’s absolutely foul to ask someone who’s going to the bathroom next to you, to look at your phone, while you pee, well then, you need to listen extra closely. Trust me, the person you’re asking to take a glimpse at your phone is completely grossed out.

In fact, I believe there are two main (although the list goes on) thoughts running through a person’s head when asked to look at a phone while in the bathroom:

  • “Why on earth do they have to show this to me now?” And for this, the answer is, “Well, they don’t have to... they want to,” which adds a funky layer of odd to the case.  Here’s the deal: nothing, I mean not a single thing happening in the bathroom at that moment, needs to be shared. Nothing could be that funny, that serious, or that time sensitive. Unless you’re trapped inside a bathroom and your phone happens to have the secret escape map on it, then it’s okay—share away. Other than that, stay on your side and keep your phone in your pocket.
  • Secondly, the person you’re trying to share with, is making bacteria cycle from your hands, to your “area,” to your phone and back. That endless of sequence of germs will never be able erased from someone’s head when they see you. They’re thinking, “That person just used their dirty hands to show me their phone, and now will go to a meeting and use that phone again, while they touch the desk, and touch papers, and … ugh, I’m going to be sick!” Too extreme? Nope, I think I nailed. If you are seen as having bady hygiene, it's a stigma that is very hard to rid of.

Tip #2: Improper Conversations

To best illustrate the importance of this tip, let’s look at the scenario of Tom and Bob. Both were walking from a meeting to the bathroom, when Tom got a call and started yapping away about weekend plans. Then, they both enter the bathroom, with Tom still chatting. However, when Bob went to the urinal, Tom stepped into a stall, and continued to laugh, joke, and talk just as if he was sitting on a couch with an old friend. Bob thought this was incredibly odd, as did John who was washing his hands at the sink. Now this is the key event that changes the course of all smartphone conversations in the bathroom. Once that door shuts, so does your phone. Washing your hands when you’re done is a safe zone to take a call. But while you’re going to the bathroom? In public? Nope, times a thousand.


About the Author

Richie Frieman

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