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Analog etiquette in a digital world

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Stop scrolling on Instagram and remember there are other people in the world. (Courtesy photo)

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A s decades pass, etiquette evolves. Many things that were once thought of as rude or improper are eventually considered casual. Similarly, things that were once considered polite, can become old-fashioned or stuffy. There was a time when wearing a hat indoors was considered completely inappropriate.

Things move much quicker these days, and while we’ve completely integrated technological advances into our lives, there simply hasn’t been enough discussion about the etiquette surrounding them. So now is the time to talk about analog etiquette in the digital world.

At the top of my list is the way people behave in Lyft Lines and Uber Pools. If I need to get somewhere quickly, I’ll use Flywheel because it’s important to support cab drivers. But I can’t always afford it. So when I’m not in a rush, and my route would require too many transfers on Muni, I use Lyft Line; for those unfamiliar, it’s like a carpool where the driver picks up and drops off multiple people during the ride.

People need to be more polite in these rides. I’m not saying you have to have a conversation each time you get in, but you must, at the very least, say hello to the person driving and the other passengers. I don’t care what kind of day you’ve had. Getting in the car without saying anything and looking at your phone the whole time without acknowledging anyone else’s presence is straight-up rude.

It’s also important to let other passengers get in the car safely. If you’re sitting on the curb side when the car picks up someone else, scooch your ass over. Not doing so forces the new passenger to wade into traffic. Stop scrolling on Instagram and remember there are other people in the world.

The same goes for when you’re interacting with someone in the service industry. Whether it’s a waiter, bartender, barista, salesperson or someone doing checkout at the grocery, put your phone down when they’re helping you. There is almost nothing on your phone at that moment that’s more important than treating this person with the respect they deserve. Not only that, you’re also slowing things down for everyone behind you.

Personal phone use shouldn’t disrupt other people. My girlfriend and I went to a movie recently, and this jackass next to her answered his phone during the movie. While this is obviously an extreme case — Kayla told him how rude he was being, and he hung up the phone — if you’ve got to take a call, stop whatever it is that you’re doing and go outside. Whether you’re at a movie, play, museum, lecture or concert, you’re not any more important than the rest of the people who paid to be there.

Speaking of concerts, it’s totally cool to take a photo or two, maybe even a quick video of the performance. But don’t spend the entire evening watching the show on your screen. Let’s be honest: You’re never actually going to watch that video again, and none of your friends on social media are going to watch your grainy video with poor sound quality. Put your phone away and enjoy being the moment.

Above all else, say “please” and “thank you”. All the time. Everywhere. It’s the very least you can do.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.

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