Is your mobile phone putting your or others' lives at risk, or is it becoming a nuisance for others?
A woman was killed in a train accident as she walked across the railway tracks while talking on her mobile phone.
According to initial investigation, the victim was hit by the train when she was walking back to her pickup truck from the local fresh market.
The train was on the return leg of a one-day trip, after carrying tourists from Bangkok to the waterfall in Sai Yok district.
It was a tragic and an unfortunate accident, not to mention that it was something that could have been avoided.
While no one can be absolutely sure of the entire circumstances surrounding her death, nevertheless, one cannot ignore the issue of mobile phone etiquette.
Like almost everything else, what constitutes appropriate behaviour varies from place to place and generation to generation.
In Thailand, we are yet to establish ground rules as to what constitutes appropriateness when it comes to mobile-phone use. It is not an uncommon sight in Bangkok to see people talking or texting on their cellphone while driving.
Whenever one sees a sudden drop in speed of the vehicle in front and/or a swaying from side to side, many of us tend to link such dangerous driving to mobile-phone use. Earlier, bad driving was usually associated with the sex or age of the driver. Today, mobile phones are often the distractions behind such aberrant driving.
After nearly two decades since mobile phones flooded the country and became a major part of people’s lives, the country finally passed a law banning the use of mobile phone while driving. Enforcement is another matter.
Aware that the use of a mobile phone in public has become a point of irritation for other people in the same space, service providers have made a bold move by warning their customers and others through commercials about this nuisance.
In some countries, using a mobile phone in public places, like a restaurant or public buses, is considered extremely rude.
Not in Thailand, as long as one keeps the volume to a minimum. However, its use in a movie theatre is frowned upon.
The obnoxiously loud ring tone is another source of irritation. There is a button called “silent mode” that many don’t like to make use of.
Similarly, there are always a handful of passengers on a flight who take their own sweet time to say goodbye to whoever they are talking to and switch their phone to airplane mode as the aircraft is about to take off.
And then there are those who are too much in a hurry to turn it back on before the plane has landed, ignoring the request of the pilot and the flight attendants that the use of a mobile phone could interfere with the plane’s avionic and communications system.
For those in a life or death situation, the desire to hook up with something is understandable. But when we have so many people so eager to get connected in spite of safety warnings and requests, it becomes an issue of socially tolerable, and not so much about what is technically possible.
The nuisance is not solely from the people at the receiving end of the call, however. Ever wonder about the callers who let the phone rings go on 10-15 times before hanging up and redial the same number almost immediately?
If the person you’re calling doesn’t pick up the phone within the first four rings, perhaps he or she is not there. Or perhaps he or she doesn’t want to talk at that point in time. The caller needs to respect that.
But no matter what part of the world one is from, there is one common rule and that is: Do not use a mobile phone, including its texting feature, when driving, riding a bike or walking across a railroad track.
And while we have to yet establish an etiquette, perhaps we should start with one principle, and that is the need to respect the people around us. We might not find yapping on a mobile phone irritating. But if the people in our vicinity do, perhaps it should be taken into consideration and respected, as a social norm.