Cell Phone Courtesy Month ft. Smartphone Zombies

Yes, smartphones may just be the greatest invention in recent years. Indeed, they make us more interconnected than ever. Sure, they’re also great for maintaining relationships. But in many ways, the device is also making us a lot more stupid, annoying and discourteous. Most of us can no longer remember phone numbers, engage in deep reading or even pay attention for prolonged periods of time without craving a touch of the screen.

We have developed habits that would’ve been socially unacceptable – even unthinkable just a decade ago – from subjecting fellow commuters to your music preference despite using $80 headphones, to simply neglecting social interaction at the dinner table.

Here are some typical smartphone zombie profiles which manage to be both simultaneously annoying and impolite:  

#1 Ms I-want-the-whole-world-to-know-what-I’m-watching

It’s 10am and you’re on the way to school. Peak hour is over so the MRT isn’t very crowded. You’re just about to fall asleep when you hear muffled crackling sounds. You look up, the auntie seated diagonally opposite you is watching a video on her phone, WITHOUT EARPHONES. Patience, you tell yourself. 30 seconds later, you realise it’s not a video. It’s an entire episode of a Korean drama.

It’s not over yet. The auntie’s phone rings and Ms I-want-the-world-to-know-what-I’m-watching transforms into Ms please-listen-to-my-5-minute-conversation-as-I-speak-at-maximum-volume.

(Why does everyone remember Bag Down Benny and not Hush-Hush Hannah from LTA’s graciousness campaign? She too, sets an excellent example)

#2 Mr Instagram-is-life

Scenario 1:

Him: Take picture for me

You: “Eh eh I think that’s far enough”

Him: -hops onto the rooftop ledge- “Here nicer”

You: “Ok… 1 2 3”

Him: “One more”

You: -can’t wait to get it done and over with, please don’t fall over or else your family will hate me and I can’t live with myself- “Done”

Him: -comes down, looks at picture- “Again”


Scenario 2:

Let our phones eat first.

#3 Ms let-me-reply-this-text-while-travelling-at-60km/h

She’s in the car that’s swaying between the lines and might even be cutting into your lane. You steer clear and hope you don’t have to resort to this:

#4 Mr I-come-to-class-to-waste-my-parents’-money

Unlike students who come to school and actually want to listen, Mr I-come-to-class-to-waste-my-parents’-money distracts those around him with his neglect for education. Not to mention, as soon as the lecturer brings up ‘exam’, his eyes light up, he turns to you and asks “what did he say???” (cycle repeats for the rest of the lecture… and semester).

#5 Ms let’s-spend-time-by-using-our-phones-together

You’ve definitely seen this, it might even be your own friends – a table of five with either all on their phones or at best, three engaging in a conversation while the other two are in cyberspace. Before the night ends, they snap a picture together and what appears on the Instagram feed is “Girls night out was amazing. We should totally do this more often”.

#6 Mr let-me-blind-you-with-my-maximum-brightness-screen-in-the-theatre

His screen brightness scale function is obsolete, and his favourite place to scroll Instagram is in a pitch black movie theatre. Our vampire instincts nearly take over, until the big screen proves to be more compelling than the screen in his hands.

By Violet Koh