Sunday, May 8, 2011

Will iPhone add to user discourtesies?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Today, Apple's long-ballyhooed iPhone goes on sale. It's a handheld combination computer, e-mail terminal, Web browser, camera, alarm clock and video iPod. It even can make and take phone calls.

The evolution of the cellphone since it was introduced in Chicago Oct. 13, 1983, has hooked young and old on instant everything — information, entertainment, nonsense and nuisances. It also has spawned public discourtesies and rudeness.

Ironically, the introduction of the iPhone comes on the eve of "Cell Phone Courtesy Month." That's been observed each July since 2002 as the brainchild of etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, who runs The Protocol School of Palm Beach, Fla. She thought it up when she realized how many rude cellphone users there were in public places.

Magnitude of the growth of cellphone use in the USA, estimated by CTIA, the Wireless Association:

•1985: 340,000

•1995: 34 million

•2005: 208 million

•Now: 239 million

Apple is expected to sell more than 200,000 iPhones this weekend. Company CEO Steve Jobs says he hopes to sell 10 million in the first year.

From plain cellphones to BlackBerrys and iPhones, the growing use of these wonderful gadgets has added to discourtesies. Those who loudly display and use them without consideration of others in public places are inherently ill-mannered.

Unless we teach ourselves some manners, à la Whitmore, the government and/or private businesses will step in with more and more restrictions. That's a threat to the First Amendment, and that must be avoided by some self-discipline.

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