Bluetooth Ettiquette

This was originally posted on my Blogger site on Monday July 27, 2009:

Since it seems that everyone and their mother’s dog has some sort of handsfree or bluetooth device these days, I thought I might add my two cents for how they should be used in public. Probably most people have seen all manner of bluetooth offenders; from the pretentious, self important wannabe’s to the more discrete users who only use them for safe, two-handed driving, to the folks who like the convenience of talking on the phone at home while multitasking.

Bluetooth devices are just another wave in the mobile communications revolution. Remember the beeper? Initially they were used mostly by doctors and upper-echelon businesspeople who needed to reached in an emergency. Eventually, they came to be associated with drug-dealers and folks who just trying to front.

The Brick (the first commercially used mobile phone) was no different. When I was in college, there was a guy who would have one in the club. No matter where he went, the Brick was on his ear as he tried to impress folks with the perception that he could afford such exclusive things. The carrying case was more like a small duffel bag, and the phone was so large that it was easy to assume that it’s user was doubling Vietnam-era battlefield communications officer.

Initially, the more compact cellular phones had the same stigma. But now they are a thoroughly modern appendage. Nowadays, about 88% of Americans are cell phone subscribers. That’s more than 4 out of 5 people. To put it another way, there are about 307 million people in the United States (according the U.S. Census Bureau) and about 268 million cell phones (NPR, Dec. 11, 2008). So since almost all of us own a cell phone, and many of us own a handfree device, ought we not use them responsibly? So here it goes.

1. If you must use a bluetooth, spend the money to buy a good one, preferably one with a good noise canceller and/or a dual microphone. Otherwise the person on the other end will hear more background noise than they will your voice. The receiver is also better quality. I personally would invest in a Plantronic’s device. They’re technology is military-grade and they have worked most of the kinks out already. If you find yourself shouting and turning your head in the direction of your blue-ear, you may need a new device. Plus, nobody wants to hear your conversation anyway.

2. In a normal voice, inform the ask the person your talking to that you are using a handsfree and ask if they can hear you. Often times, they may be only hearing about every third word. Most people are too nice to tell you that they can’t hear you and that your stuff is junk. Plus it will help you establish a good speaking volume.

3. This one should be self explanitory. Don’t use your bluetooth or cell phone when you are at the cash register or check out counter. It’s just plain rude. If you’re on a bluetooth, most people won’t know that on the phone and assume that you’re talking to them. Ask the person on the phone to hold on, or tell them that you’ll call them back. Also, don’t forget to tell the live person that you’re ending a call. If you must use your device in this situation, apologize. It’s a nice gesture.

4. If possible, don’t start a long and involved conversation in a public place on your bluetooth. Be discrete. After all, you don’t want all your business out there. Plus, nobody wants to hear your conversation anyway. These are just a few suggestions. The bottom line is to show basic consideration for folks.

Be easy fam! Peace!

-da brotha

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