We oldies make fun of the young with our technique, but it’s us who lack etiquette


Three years ago I rode the bullet train in Japan. While the speed and punctuality were great, it was the passenger etiquette rules that were most impressive.

o tap out loud. No phone calls. No noisy food.

Sensual respect for the person next to you – that was the most important thing.

I was reminded of that recently at the Madness concert last weekend, where the mostly middle-aged crowd at Dublin’s Point Depot were making a mess with their phones.

Many of the predominantly over 50-year-olds wanted to take photos and videos. It was a lesson in disruptive swagger.

A lady next to me was uselessly using her flash to take videos during the songs. That meant a torch on the heads of the people in front of us for half the evening.

Another man next to us kept wanting to check Facebook on his phone in full light, shooting rays into the darkness every two minutes.

Someone behind me was playing a WhatsApp voice message at full volume.


I suspect these are the same people who honk their car horns in farewell on a housing estate with sleeping children.

Or whistle in waiting rooms. Or see their phones ringing at the bottom of a purse during a game.

So I thought it would be a good time to remind other middle-aged people of a few basic points of courtesy when using your phone.

Take a few of them on board and you’ll no longer be seen as the equivalent of the yob playing a ghetto blaster on the top deck of a bus.

1. Ringtone: Please turn it off. No seriously, do it. Ringtones today are usually seen as (quite) irritatingly intrusive to others around you.

For most of us, they’re also unnecessary: ​​just put the phone on the vibrate setting. If you don’t have your phone in a pocket, you’ll almost certainly still hear the vibration.

2. Keyboard Clicks: Please, please turn this off. Imagine an office where the person next to you makes small digital noises every time they tap a keyboard key. Wouldn’t it drive you a little crazy?

3. Notification Sounds: Have you ever sat next to someone who exchanged 50 text messages and each one produced a “DINNNG”? At full volume? In a quiet environment?

Like ringtones, most of us just don’t need these tones to get an alert — the vibrate setting will do it almost every time.

4. Screen Brightness: As irritating as it can be when someone else is using their phone at the cinema, there are times when it feels important to look for something.

Again, you can make a big difference to the comfort of those around you. Minimize the screen brightness.

There’s a world of difference between a faintly visible rectangle a few yards away and a searchlight shooting up into the air and distracting everyone’s attention.

5. Camera flash off: Would you bring a full-size camera into a dark room and start taking flash photos? You would draw massive attention, right? The same goes for phone flashes.

The irony is that they are mostly useless and rarely improve camera photos. They’re particularly redundant when you’re recording or filming anything more than a few feet away, e.g. B. a stage. But they are enormously distracting to others, especially in darkened environments.

Too picky and narky? Not really. It’s a bit like asking someone to quit smoking when they’re sitting next to you on a bus or a movie theater. Or not playing loud music at night. Or even to put on a top in a restaurant.

It’s basic respect for the people around you. It’s a recognition that your neighbor’s comfort and needs, which may differ from yours on a sensory level, are always just as important as your own. Once you accept that, it’s easier to understand why constant ringing or flares in shared dark spaces during a performance can be fundamentally disruptive.

What about the argument that the over-50s are still adjusting to this relatively new technology?

I’m sorry, but the best before date has passed for some time. Smartphones have been in the hands of the vast majority of us—40s, 50s, 60s and older—for at least a decade. We know how they work.

It’s just as condescending to say that middle-aged people can’t bother figuring out how to turn off a setting as that they can’t understand WhatsApp or Facebook.

Unfair slander of middle age? I do not think so. Yes, younger people do irritating things with phones.

But walking down a path staring at a phone isn’t quite the same as using the alarm clock as a ringtone for an incoming call. And sitting around in a group staring at phones, although it may seem strange to older folks, doesn’t affect the well-being of others as much as a flashlight in your face does.

Plus, young people are constantly being choked off by older generations for their use of technology.

So let’s civilize a little, old folks. Let’s take the ethos of the Japanese bullet train to heart. Stop annoying your neighbors with your ignorant phone habits. We oldies make fun of the young with our technique, but it’s us who lack etiquette

Fry Electronics Team

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