Matt's Tech Law #2 - Headset Etiquette

As we go through life, we learn what is and is not acceptable behavior. Some of these acceptable behaviors are pretty simple to pick up on and will never change. Don't talk behind someone's back, don't leave the toilet seat up (at least so my wife says), don't pass gas in an elevator, and on and on. Simple, right? Perhaps even obvious? However, tech etiquette is still in its infancy, and the rules of acceptable behavior regarding technology aren't always as obvious as we'd like it to be. What's worse... no one ever seems to be on the same page, and sometimes you have to learn new rules the hard way.

In fact, I was recently given an etiquette lesson by a friend of mine during this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. I've been attached to my Jawbone Bluetooth headset ever since I got it. Keeping my phone on my belt and being able to answer and receive calls without wires is a convenience I've grown too accustomed to, and it's doubtful I'll ever go back. The mere thought of having to hold a phone to my head simply to have a conversation... barbaric.

I, like others I know, who have discovered the convenience of hands-free calling with Bluetooth or wired headsets tend to leave them on almost all the time. I used to think it wasn't a big deal, at least until it was (harshly) pointed out to me in a social situation. At first I thought he was being over dramatic and critical, but after a little reflection I realized he was dead on... it's rude to wear your headset around others in a social situation.

It's something that has even annoyed me without ever realizing it. You start talking to someone because you didn't see the little light blinking on the side of their head (and some blink all the time anyway... how the heck are you supposed to tell!), only to get that irritated look because you interrupted them and a finger pointing to the headset they wear all the time anyway. The second they get off the line you're treated with a sarcastic, "Didn't you see I was on the phone?" Roughly translated, "Next time stare at the side of my head for a blinking light before talking to me you dummy!" And it's still annoying even when they're not on the phone since you have to start every conversation with, "Are you talking to someone right now?"

So Jeremy, I've learned my lesson, and am now declaring a new law. Without further adieu, Matt's Tech Law #2:

In almost any social situation, defined as any time outside a vehicle when there are others in your presence, a Bluetooth wireless or wired headset can ONLY be worn if you are speaking to someone on the phone at that moment.

So the next time you're hanging out with some friends or family and see one of them wearing a headset with no one on the line, refuse to talk to them until they take it off. Or better yet, pick up your phone and call them while you're standing right in front of them... it's safe to assume they'd rather have a phone conversation than a face-to-face one.


Amen, brother Matt!  You're 2 for 2 on these laws!  Bravo!

Tell me about it.  I agree completely.  What bothers me the most is folks who have the headset on when interacting in a line somewhere, be it McD's, the gas station, or wherever - and the result is usually being somewhat rude to the cashier.  Now, that's not fair!  It ties right in with law #2 :)


I have definitely started talking to a stranger wearing a headset because I thought they were talking to me ... even though they were on the phone.


I travel a lot and see them all over the airport. Not only do people look totally stupid talking to themselves and waving their hands around, they bother everyone else that are waiting for their plane. 


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