We all know it's not the smartphones that are the problem, it's how people use them. While I can understand (up to a point) that people that have grown up with cellphone technology at their fingertips may be fuzzy on phone etiquette when in company, that doesn't explain or excuse their rude behavior. What really baffles me are the people my age, who grew up before cellphones were so accessible and affordable, constantly checking for texts, email, using the internet, making and answering calls instead of interacting with the people around them.
My husband and I got our first smartphones just over a year ago - we use them all the time and we love them! We can look things up on the spot instead of driving ourselves crazy trying to remember such-and-such. We can find places without having to stop for directions. But, owning a smartphone didn't magically change my social behavior; the etiquette that applied to my old cellphone use still applies today. If my phone rings while I'm out socializing, I'll reach into my purse (because I keep it in my purse, not on the table) and switch it to vibrate to avoid further interruptions. Unless I'm waiting for or expecting a call, I usually don't bother to look at the caller's name because what does it matter? It's not as though I'm going to take the call.
If you have children, keeping your phone on the table and glancing at incoming texts and calls to see if it was one of them or the babysitter with an *emergency* makes sense. A text to locate fill-in-the-blank, while you're out on a date or with friends, does not warrant a response. Even better, teach your kids that it's not ok to constantly interrupt you with trivial things - especially when you're out socializing.
I get that a quick call or text to ask a question can save time - at least for the person doing the asking - but no so much for the person being interrupted on the other end. I was at an out of state event last week and the seventeen year old daughter of a friend texted her to ask where a certain piece of clothing was. My friend responded, "I washed it, isn't it in your closet?" Yup, it was hanging in her closet right where it belonged.
My friends and coworkers complain all the time about the constant interruptions, how they can't get anything done, etc. You should see their faces when I tell ask, with a straight face, "you do know that you don't have to answer the phone or read texts or check email unless you want to, right?"
Hey, you can look to see who's calling and read texts but you don't have to immediately respond. What a concept!
But, checking email, posting on Facebook and other internet use instead of paying attention to your surroundings - that's all on you. You're not being interrupted by others, you're choosing to be rude.