Social Question

josie's avatar

Is texting in a small social gathering sort of rude, in the same way that whispering might be regarded as rude?

Asked by josie (22955 points ) January 15th, 2014

When I was a child, my mom told me that whispering to each other might be regarded as rude in some social circumstances. A dinner party, or a small social gathering of one kind or another.
(Not church, or funerals of course, but where people otherwise converse in a normal tone)

It made sense to me, so I have kept that as a principle of social manners-whispering is occasionally a rude thing to do. If you must speak privately, leave the room.

I regard texting in the same circumstances to be equally rude. My girlfriend has a friend who joins us occasionally for dinner, and she texts constantly. I never say anything, but I can’t help but regard her as sort of a douche.

I really do not think there is a firmly established social convention about this yet. But what do you think?

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27 Answers

creative1's avatar

Anything that takes you away from the social gathering I would consider rude. You don’t go taking phone calls while she is there so what is the difference here.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Douche move for sure. Why bother to go to dinner if you’re going to text other people?

I really don’t think people realize how rude it’s perceived as by many of us.

Kardamom's avatar

I “broke up” with a friend for constantly doing this. It seemed like she had better things to do than socialize with me and our small group of friends.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Of course it’s rude to ignore your dinner companions and text the whole time. Who would disagree with that?

Your mention of whispering and private conversations reminded me of something. One time my husband and I went to dinner with his mother and her long-time boyfriend. Before we even got our food, I noticed them glancing at each other and sharing a private smile every so often (it seemed like every time I said something). This made me so annoyed and uncomfortable (every time he smiles it’s a condescending smirk) that I barely spoke the entire dinner. I believe she caught on that I was put off by what they were doing, so she texted me later to let me know that she and her boyfriend share “eye conversations” to let each other know they’re thinking about each other and that it had nothing to do with me. I replied back that it was no big deal and left it alone, but we haven’t gone to dinner with them since. I love his mother, but I have a lot of negative feelings about her boyfriend that I keep to myself. When he’s around, she’s a different person entirely, so I prefer to just be around her without him there. I mean, eye conversations so they know they’re thinking about each other? Of course you’re thinking about each other, you’re sitting right next to each other! I think it’s bullshit and I’m fairly certain that “eye conversation” did have something to do with me and/or my husband. Thinking about it now still pisses me off.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@livelaughlove21 That is so odd I have to laugh!!

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I agree with @creative1 . I lived overseas for a while, and got a crash course in manners. Anything that excludes anyone in the group is rude. Such as, talking to someone in a different language, talking about something that not everyone knows about (such as, “Steve is going on a mission) unless everyone knows who Steve is, and what a mission is, and why you thought it was a good topic to bring up to the whole group.

Unfortunately, texting is a modern phenomenon, and I hate it. Nothing more distracting than to be talking around the dinner table, and having everyone under the age of 25 not listening or contributing. Ugh!

My 19 year old granddaughter comes to visit quite often, but sometimes I wonder why she bothers, as she doesn’t talk to me anymore. She brings over movies for us to watch, but she isn’t paying any attention to it. I have threatened her that I will take her phone at the front door and put it away until she leaves, but then she looks at me in horror.

trailsillustrated's avatar

Just had a conversation about this. When people are talking about something that is between them, I am sitting in the middle, they are talking across the table, they are talking over and across me, yes my face is going to be in my phone. Sorry.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@ Trailsillustrated Well, then, they are also being rude for having a private conversation between themselves and leaving you out. You can tell them that I said that.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@KNOWITALL Glad I could amuse. :)

trailsillustrated's avatar

another example: I am having dinner at my sister’s place in the us. We are eating in the lounge room with trays. They are watching american sports which I don’t get and find totally boring. There is no conversation going on at all. Yet her dh yells at me for face in phone. ehhh

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt you said it, now do it. I would. If she sees you are serious, then maybe you can set certain times/activities when she is expected to power off, and times when you don’t mind her thumbing away.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@trailsillustrated Now let me give you an example, around the lunch table at my place of work, everyone is LDS except me. Sometimes the conversation goes to temple marriage, the latest relief society lesson, who might be the next president of the church, who is going on a mission and where, and all kinds of talk about people in their ward that I don’t know. They even look smugly satisfied at me, knowing they have left me out and feeling pretty good about it. How rude!

@Jonesn4burgers You are right. From now on, when she brings over a movie and wants to watch it with me, I will not do it until she agrees to leave her phone upstairs and off.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt That LDS example seems odd but I’m sure they get a lot of crap from “outsiders”.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt so my lunchtime in that situation would be spent perusing the internet and fb.

glacial's avatar

If it’s a large enough group that everyone around the table is talking to someone, then I don’t find it particularly rude. Or if the person being texted to is joining the party and needs directions, or is apologizing for being late, etc. then it’s certainly not rude – this happens a lot, I find. However, if it’s a very small group (say, four people) or just a couple then it’s definitely rude. The bottom line is, if anyone within the group is forced to stare into space while someone texts, then the texter should knock it off.

But no – I absolutely don’t think it’s comparable to whispering. People who are texting at a gathering are probably not talking about what is happening at that gathering. The point is that they’re distracted from the event, not reporting news of the event. Unless, as I mentioned, the person on the other end is meant to be there.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@KNOWITALL My example seems odd? Actually, it is a very common occurance in Utah. Not only do members revel in leaving non-members out of their little world, but they even make sure that converts know that they aren’t REAL mormons unless their ancestors pushed a handcart across the plains.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

The very best relationship I ever had with any mormons was YEARS ago when two adoreable baby-faced, bible-thumping, bike-riding young men came to my door. I told them they could come in, but only if they wanted to rest, have a cold beverage, and talk about ANYTHING besides religion. They came in. I gave them some lemonade. I told them I had my beliefs, which were unlike theirs, and nothing they say could make one bit of change for me. I let them know they were welcome to come by anytime they wanted to just rest, and that I would be an attentive hostess, so long as they leave the conversions out with my doormat. They never cme back, but they always waved when they saw me. I did let them leave a Bible.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt Oh no, I meant that they seem very open to communicating and spreading their message on everything I’ve seen or heard. :)

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

You have to remember that Utah is probably the only place where the mormons are in the majority, so in this state they get the “star-bellied sneech” syndrome.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt I don’t know what that means but I assume a superiority complex?! :) Kind of the same a little bit here in the bible belt with christians “those dang heathens”, about anyone else.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@glacial HAHA, I thought it was some Utah saying…I don’t have kids, cut me a little slack!!

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

So there are these yellow creatures called Sneetches, some of whom have a green star on their bellies. At the beginning of the story, Sneetches with stars discriminate against and shun those without. A “fix-it-up chappie” named Sylvester McMonkey McBean appears and offers the Sneetches without stars the chance to have them with his Star-On machine, for three dollars. The treatment is instantly popular, but this upsets the original star-bellied Sneetches, as they are in danger of losing their special status.

So it is with converts, they are the sneetches who got the star-on treatment.

Pandora's avatar

Yes. So is playing games. Only time I don’t think it rude is if you are staying over someones home for the whole weekend, or if you just arrived and needed to send a message that you have arrived safely. If you are only going to be their for a few hours, you should be present 100 percent of the time or don’t bother to show up. Some exceptions may be if you have children who are home with a sitter and the sitter needs to contact you or you make one call to check on them, or in cases of emergencies.

YARNLADY's avatar

When it was the new thing our (then) teen kids did it a lot at family gatherings. They’ve outgrown it now.

LornaLove's avatar

When I read this, I also saw this person as a teen oddly. I think when you grow up you realize the people you are sitting in front of and that have made dinner for you, deserve your focus.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

You would hope that they are teens, anyway, but I see the same behavior from people my age, once they get the hang of the smart phone.

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