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

Just like in Tip #1, believing that the bathroom isn’t a private place of personal space shows a lack of social manners and tact.  Not that anyone needs complete peace and quiet while going to the bathroom, but when you’re barking up a storm with someone on the other line, it makes for an uncomfortable setting.  What is so important that it can’t wait until you’re done? Even if you’re in there for “a while” (however you define that) can’t you just text them?  No one wants to know you’re talking to them while you do your business. No one! You have two proper options. First, cut the conversation off before you even get into the bathroom (the best approach) or politley excuse yourself from the conversation if you find yourself in the bathroom still talking. I doubt anyone will inquire as to why you have to call them back. Just a simple, “Can I call you back in a few minutes?” will suffice. Clicking your phone off before entering the bathroom shows a proper sense of social awareness, and respect for people around you.

Tip #3: Keep It On Silent

Where someone keeps chatting away on their phone, the sister to that unmannerly behavior is when people watch videos on their phone with the volume on blast. Now, I understand that you want to relax when you go to the bathroom—hence the old notion of reading while on the toilet—but streaming YouTube? This may be a bit too extreme. Wait, no, not maybe, it is.  Not because of what they’re watching—I don’t care what that is—but just that they are doing it and that they don’t care. To echo what I said in Tips #1 and #2, “What is so important?” Tell me! Then again, don't tell me. But if you're going to do this, have you ever though about headphones? I mean, if you insist on watching videos in the stall, at least do so in stealth mode.

With that, let me say that I don’t condone bringing headphones into the bathroom. I mean, if I’m at the sink and a coworker pops out of the bathroom twirling their headphones around their finger like a lifeguard does with their whistle, I will be totally grossed out. However, and I stress the word however, if you have a dying need to watch videos on your smartphone while you go to the bathroom, either use headphones/ear buds or just put it on silent. People can hear a pin drop in the bathroom and the last thing they need to hear is Mary from accounting, watching clips of Bachelor In Paradise online. People may not say it, but 99.9999% of the public find listening to your phone loudly in the bathroom to be very odd. Don’t be a statistic, folks.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Do you have any recent graduates in your circle, or perhaps someone who is looking to start a new career, check out my new book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Careerfor great tips and advice on job success. It's available now!


About the Author

Richie Frieman

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