Mendte’s Rules of Texting Etiquette

Follow my simple commandments. Otherwise: off with your thumbs!

I hate texting.

Or maybe I just hate the people who have so embraced texting that when you are with them you feel as if you are trying to get a word in edgewise with the operator of a party line.

Either way, the addiction to the mutant form of communication has spread from high school girls to seemingly everyone who has thumbs. It has spread so fast no one has stopped to define the proper etiquette of texting. [SIGNUP]

We can start with some easy scenarios. No one should ever be texting while driving.  Those who do should lose their license. It is just too dangerous. While they look down to write “On my way…can’t wait to see you.” They are putting our lives at risk.

New Jersey has a law against it. The Pennsylvania senate is expected to pass a similar ban next month.  Delaware is also looking at legislation.

But they are difficult laws to enforce.  So we need a version of a texting neighborhood watch program.  If someone texts you while driving, text back “You’re an idiot.” Refuse to engage in texting with those behind the wheel and maybe growing peer pressure will make it stop.

Another place texting should be banned is at the movies. The light from the phone combined with the chicken pecking of the keys is enough to distract both senses required to enjoy a movie. However, if the people who talk through the movies would agree to text each other instead I would happily agree to make an exception.

Restaurants present a bigger challenge.

We have all been in a situation where our conversation is hijacked by a text. For some reason, text messages have climbed the communication food chain and have surpassed even face-to-face communication.

Many people will put their cell phone on the table next to their plate and they will look at it as if they are waiting on word about a relative lost in the Alps.  And when a text does come in it’s like another person just sat at the table and stole the conversation.

People seem to have forgotten that the beauty of text messages is you do not have to read them right away.  So why do people act like they just got a Mission Impossible message that will self destruct if they don’t read it within 10 seconds? And they read it without so much as an “excuse me.” recently asked its readers to suggest some simple guidelines for social texting and it got three hundred responses.

The best was “The Bathroom Rule” that states: “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.”


I would prefer the Wyatt Earp Rule, where you check your cell phones at the door.  But sans that extreme, the bathroom rule will make the world a better place.  If you are out with the in-laws, you need to excuse yourself before reaching for a text and even then only at the right moment. And you must be quick about it.  If you are in a less formal situation, like at a friend’s house watching the Eagles, text away.

Finally, we need to deal with the small talk texters. Text messages should be made of short, vital messages that do not require a response.  Messages like “I’m on my way,” “Contract arrived on time” or even “Thinking of you” are all great.

But I go out of my way to avoid small talk.  When you text messages like “what are you up to?”  or ”I’m thinking of having veal for dinner,” you are stalking me with your small talk and I will not engage.

That last rule is for adults. High school students have completely different rules. Teens seem to need to test the limits of unlimited texting. I’m all for anything that makes communication a little easier during those awkward years.

But for the 18 and over crowd, grow up and text less.

Did I mention I hate texting?