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Manners and texting

“If you've been driving for a little while and nothing's happened to you yet - and you've been texting and driving - you think, 'Oh nothing's going to happen.' But all it takes is an accident happening with one of your friends or God forbid, something happening to you, to really give you a wake-up call.”

~Victoria Justice

I wrote a column about a month ago in which I emphasized the importance of good manners and realized I left out at least one major issue. This day and age, texting must be part of any discussion about manners.

So many people feel it is okay to write or respond to a text message anytime they want to, even when sitting at a table full of other people. This is particularly true with younger folks.

I have been at dinner when others at the table never exchanged a word of conversation. Instead, they spent all of their time with their head down texting their friends.

In my mind, it is so rude when you are talking to someone and, all of a sudden, they are now either reading or writing a text. Not only is it rude, it also increases your stress levels by forcing you to try to do two things at the same time. We all need to get adequate time away from technology so we can just be.

In Ft. Lee, NJ., injuries while texting and walking became such a problem, the city started charging pedestrians caught walking and texting $85. Already this year, the city has had three fatalities involving pedestrians who were texting.

While I think Ft. Lee is probably a pretty extreme example, the city certainly demonstrates the point that texting while doing anything else could be quite dangerous.

Driving while texting, for example, causes 1,600,000 accidents every year, according to the National Safety Council.

Clearly, texting in certain circumstances can be very dangerous. It can also be very rude if certain rules are not observed.

One basic rule of texting is it should not be done in public places such as theaters and restaurants. If you have ever been disturbed by the glare of someone’s phone in a movie theater, you understand why.

Texting in social situations should also not be done if it can be avoided. The people who stop to text in the middle of conversations, meetings and gatherings may not realize how inconsiderate this behavior is, but if given some thought, I do not think it is hard to understand why.

Of course there will be times when you will have to answer a text while dealing with other people because it is that important. In these cases, it is best to apologize for answering the text and explain it is important.

As an example, I was with a group of people when I received a text from Ellie. I explained that it was important I respond and asked if they minded me quickly texting her back.

To clarify, I am not against texting. It is a neat technology and I appreciate the benefits it brings. In fact, I do not think my children would communicate if not for texting. That said, text must be used in a sensible way. If unsure what constitutes “sensible,” a simple rule of thumb is if in doubt, do not text!

Now go out and make sure your text manners are up to snuff. Be careful you do not offend anyone by texting at an inappropriate time.

You can do this.

-Jerry Osteryoung

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