Follow 'The Bathroom Rule,' and Perfect Texting Etiquette Will Follow
Submitted by a reader named Marie LaFerriere, the rule reads as follows:
If you're in a situation where you'd excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, you should also excuse yourself before reaching for your phone. Otherwise, go ahead without asking. Either way, don't play with your phone longer than you'd stay in the bathroom.
So what made The Bathroom Rule so much more universal than the rest? According to Slate's Farhad Manjoo, "The beauty of this rule is its flexibility." If you're at dinner with the in-laws, for example, it makes you think twice before pulling out your phone. If you're in a decidedly less formal situation, though, the rule provides a convenient barometer against which you can measure the rudeness of texting in front of others. Really, it's a remarkably simple rule that can be applied universally.
The implementation of the rule, of course, still depends on circumstance, and on the individual. As Manjoo acknowledges, the rule's "emergency situation" caveat could prove problematic, since everyone adheres to different social norms, and to different definitions of what constitutes an emergency. Even if you had enormously inconvenient bladder control problems, you would still feel obliged, in most social circumstances, to explain to your entourage why you've been running off to the bathroom every 20 minutes. The same rule, according to Manjoo, applies to texting, and forces us to consider whether or not our excuses for texting would be accepted with equal understanding in a given situation.
The only real flaw in the rule, it seems, is one pointed out by Nick Bilton of the New York Times, whose article on the social norms of texting inspired Slate's inquiry. What if you happen to find yourself in a group of people who have no qualms about whipping out their smartphones in front of each other? It's kind of a moot point, but it still highlights one important aspect of the bathroom rule: it's definitely not commutative. [From: Slate]