Etiquette is a strange and wonderful thing. There's something magical about the idea that random rules of behaviour can neatly separate polite people from the riffraff, the well-bred from the plebs.

Bread rolls at the table must always be torn, don't you know; never cut. And when people say "How do you do?" one must never reply "Great, thanks" - not exactly sure why; it must be a rhetorical question I guess. Never say toilet; it's a "lavatory" or "loo" - even "bog" is acceptable. Who'd have thought? And never hold a knife like a pen; you should hold a knife like a knife.

But while all these traditional niceties have long been set in stone, the accepted etiquettes surrounding the use of smartphones and mobile technology in general are emerging as we speak. Some people interpret the fact that we're all still figuring out what's acceptable and what's not as licence to abandon all principles of decent behaviour. This stance is a cop-out for there are some basic points that we really should all adhere to.

Do not take or make a telephone call at the checkout.


I've seen people talking on the phone while being served by a shop assistant or checkout operator. This behaviour is beyond rude. If your business was really that crucial I'm sure you'd also be important enough to have an assistant or a housekeeper to do the grocery shopping for you. So if you're not engaged with matters of great urgency such as saving the planet from imminent destruction, I have just ten words of advice while at the supermarket checkout or shop counter: Put the phone down and step away from the phone.

Never text while drunk.

Have you ever woken up with a fuzzy head and that sinking feeling as you wonder: who did I text late last night? And, more importantly, what did I say? Luckily the evidence is usually right there on your mobile device. I don't know about you but I always find my late night alcohol-fuelled texts are textbook examples of great punctuation, perfect spelling and moderate language. No, really. I think it's called overcompensating or something.

Do not text while driving.

It's dangerous and it's against the law. I initially thought the rule applied only when the vehicle was moving so you were permitted to text when stationary at traffic lights but now I understand that's a false assumption. I see people texting on the motorway all the time. (I've also witnessed people shaving, applying makeup, drinking coffee and eating while driving. Fifteen years ago on the slow, dull daily commute to Progressive Enterprises' headquarters in Mangere I used to flick through New Idea magazine and paint my fingernails - with quick-dry polish in a company car if you're worried about potential mess - while stopped at red lights.)

It's sometimes okay to walk and text.

Opinion is divided on this but I'm guilty of this habit. I don't recommend it if you're on crowded Queen Street pavements but I don't see a problem in a suburban street or quiet part of town. Just ensure you look up occasionally so you avoid other pedestrians and dog droppings. Many people text while crossing a road: for safety reasons, this is strictly not recommended.

Don't be an App bore.


Seriously dude, I do not need to see a demonstration of your favourite App - and I do not need to know how much it cost or how cool it is. In the words of, "yeah, we get it. There's an App for everything... Still don't take every chance you get to bust out your smartphone and show me your fancy [A]pps."

Never talk on the phone while you're on the toilet.

This takes multitasking to a whole new level and I'm not even going to explain this one. Honestly!

Do you agree with this list of guidelines? If not, what have I got wrong? And what rules have I failed to mention? Do you have a particular bugbear when it comes to mobile technology etiquette? What rules of etiquette are you guilty of breaking?