The Virtue of Silence, Part I

The Art of Manliness’ original post lists three (although the post itself says four) areas where men (although the virtue of silence applies to both men AND women) can apply the virtue of silence.  Instead of going at it all in one go, I’m going to break down my take on it into smaller parts, starting with the three areas listed in the original post.

* * * * *

On the virtue of silence, the Art of Manliness lists three specific areas of application.  The Cell Phone, Customer Service and The Internet.  Today I’m going to focus on the first area – The Cell Phone.

“Much of our conversations now take place over the ever ubiquitous cell phone. Just as World War I was especially bloody because the technology in artillery had progressed faster than the development of new military tactics, so too cell phone usage is an unmannered minefield because cell phone etiquette has not kept pace with growth. But cell phone etiquette is an excellent way to show you are a well-mannered gent. Here are some rules to obey:

1. Don’t talk on your cell phone when you have a captive audience.

Remember in high school when you and your friends drove around yelling and laughing and blasting your music? You thought you were the coolest people to ever exist. Then when you reached your 20′s, you saw those same high schoolers and thought “what a bunch of jackasses.” Things always seem far more acceptable when you are the one doing it. This must be why people have loud and obnoxious conversations despite the fact that other people are trapped in proximity to them. Just remember when you are tempted to do this: you’ve seen that guy; don’t be that guy.

> I think it’s doubly irritating when you can also hear the voice on the OTHER end of the phone as well as the…individual…who’s inconsiderate enough to be loud enough for everyone else to hear.  Have any of you ever NOT experienced that?

2. Don’t talk or answer your cell phone while talking to ANYONE in person.

Don’t answer your phone while holding a conversation with an actual human being. There are no exceptions to this rule. Think about it: if you were at a party conversing with a friend, and someone else walked up, would you immediately cut off the conversation with the first friend and abruptly turn your attention to the new person? Well maybe you would, but you’re probably a tool.

> The only exception to this one that I can think of is two employees interrupting their conversation so that one of them can help a customer who needs assistance.  In general, though, the rule stands.

3. Don’t use your phone in any place in which people expect a certain atmosphere.

There are certain situations in which people expect a respectful quiet to prevail. A cell phone should not burst this bubble of ambience. Thus, you should never use your cell phone at funerals, weddings, classes, church services, movies, plays, museums, etc. By even allowing your cell phone to ring, never mind speaking into it, you announce to the world that your conversation is more important that the ruminations of everyone else in the room. It is the height of arrogance. People will protest that their calls are very important. To which I say, what did people do in the 90′s?? For that matter, what did people do for almost the entirety of human existence? Somehow our ancestors kept on living. You will too.”

> I can think of a few more places/instances where you should not answer your cell phone: at a restaurant with anyone: the dinner table; and of course..A PUBLIC (OR PRIVATE) RESTROOM!  Seriously, isn’t it distasteful enough to have to listen to a one-sided conversation while you’re trying to do a #1 or #2, let alone actually BE the person on the other side of that conversation?  Fortunately, I’ve only had to listen to that kind of conversation.

* * * * *

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. ~ Mark Twain