Have You Ever Been Furious with a Texter?

don't text and driveThis week, a man was shot and killed because he was texting in a movie theater. You can read the story here.

It’s a horrific incident that should elicit more surprise than it does.  When I heard about it I was deeply saddened, and at the same time  it wasn’t shocking. You could almost see something like this coming, somewhere, sometime.

Texting is a handy tool that can also inspire annoyance, anger, even rage.

I’ve seen people on airplanes get increasingly agitated when the person seated near them continues to text after the flight attendants have asked everyone to turn off  their portable devices, delaying push-back from the gate.

I’ve witnessed people in meetings get annoyed at co-workers who text throughout a meeting – all the while the texter is thinking no one knows because the phone is in their lap rather than on the table.

Seeing people texting while driving is infuriating.  How can they be so selfish and careless? What is that important or urgent?

What about people who continue their phone conversations while interacting with a cashier.  How dismissive to the retail worker!

I’ve gotten annoyed when someone continues to text or play games when I’m talking to them. In fairness I know there have been occasions when I’ve done that same thing myself – to the annoyance of people talking to me.

How do we navigate the unwritten rules about when and where it’s OK to text? To talk on the phone? (Cell phones conversations allowed on airplanes? Heaven help us.) Further, technology addiction is real (www.virtual-addiction.com) as many find it impossible to curb their own use of their devices even if they know it’s creating a problem.

I’m curious about your experiences.  Have you ever been involved in or witnessed a battle over the use of technology?  What happened? Was it amicably resolved?  If so, how?

Vigilant consideration is wise option. If there is a chance that the use of the gadget could be rude, disruptive or annoying, put it down.

About that incident in the movie theater. Nothing justifies what the shooter did.  And if the man texting had either put the phone away or gone to the lobby, he’d likely be alive today. A senseless tragedy that will be repeated if we don’t choose wisely.


  1. Vance Crowe (@VanceCrowe) on January 21, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    It is easy to think of people texting as bad or wrong or inconsiderate… something we just haven’t developed etiquette for. I would propose that this will actually never change because of just how powerful of a technology texting/using the internet on a smart phone is.

    We often don’t realize that texting is a way to literally have a thought, and then send that thought through the air to another person- so that they can share in that thought. No matter where others are, we are connected to them through our cell phones which give us a sort of telepathy. I imagine a situation in which I am going to pick up my wife from a coffee shop. I send her a text to tell her I am on my way, and she responds by texting me that she is somewhere new- so when I come up to a T intersection I now take a left instead of a right because she sent me a thought.

    This is very powerful, and we will not slow down or quit sharing these thoughts with people… instead we will build technologies that will make it less obtrusive for people to send/receive these thoughts. I would encourage people to find ways to be understanding of people who text while doing other things because they are just learning to use their telepathy machines and there simply is no way to both use them, and please people who would rather that person focus 100% of their attention on something that isn’t texting.

    I also realize that people get in a lot more accidents and there is a lot of rage around this topic… we will not get out of this problem by creating laws or technologies to ban it… the urge and the incentive is just too great, instead we should invent things that solve car accidents and the bright screens that make people in theaters angry. This is a realization I have had only over the last 6 months or so after I was really blasted for criticizing young people that inquired about a job via text… what feels informal/insensitive/dangerous today… might well be fully integrated into society tomorrow.

    Great conversation topic!

  2. Mary Kutheis on January 21, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Insightful thoughts, Vance. With regard to the first point, texters in general are not bad, wrong or inconsiderate — only in certain situations. And though some may develop the etiquette, just like table manners, it’s a certainty that not everyone will value, nor follow those guidelines. I imagine you’re right that technologies will exist to lessen the negative impact that using the gadgets has on those around the user. There are so many bright, inventive, resourceful people thinking of just such solutions every day. Until those technologies exist, I can’t be understanding of people who choose to behave recklessly (texting and driving) as for many it’s been a practice resulting in preventable deaths. In this moment the answer to all of this isn’t new inventions or technologies that are sure to exist at some future date. Until then it’s kindness, consideration and compromise that will alleviate many of the problems. We always have a choice to elevate the conversation rather than escalate the conflict. I hope we choose wisely. Clearly, there is so much at stake.

    Thank you so much for weighing in. This is invigorating conversation!