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How mobile technology ruined etiquette

Posting in Design

No, it's not text messaging shorthand that's ruined etiquette. And it's not the chronic over-sharing of photos or political screeds, though that too has a place in the annals of terribleness.

Mobile technology has enabled us to make changes on the fly, and because of that, we're breaking long-established rules to what's socially appropriate.

Ever had someone bail on a business meeting at the last minute? Ever tried to organize a gathering, only to have various invitees splinter off into their own events? Do you find yourself saying "yes" to virtually everything, even though there's no possible way you could attend it all?

So does everyone else. And that's the problem.

Caroline Tell reports for the New York Times:

Digital flakiness seems to apply equally to last-minute plans and engagements booked way in advance. Ashley Wick, the founder of Wick Communications, a firm based in New York, organized an intimate dinner this fall to introduce a designer she represents to about 10 editors. Invitations were sent out two weeks earlier, but that afternoon almost half of the confirmed attendees canceled via e-mail.

“Offline rules of etiquette no longer seem to apply,” Ms. Wick said. “People hide behind e-mail or text messages to cancel appointments, or do things that feel uncomfortable to do in person.”

Sociologists call it "micro-coordination," because you can adjust plans at will. I call it endlessly frustrating.

A social circle that's filtered through FaceTime, not face time? Sorry -- can't make it.

— By on October 29, 2012, 1:47 AM PST

Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure