Is Punctuation ‘Judgey’? Should I Text Before Calling? How Cell Phone Etiquette Has Evolved

Is Punctuation 'Judgey' Should I Text Before Calling How Cell Phone Etiquette Has Evolved

Is Punctuation ‘Judgey’? Should I Text Before Calling? How Cell Phone Etiquette Has Evolved

Call me old-fashioned, or maybe I just have clumsy thumbs. When I have a choice between texting and calling someone, I usually select the phone call.

It’s quicker and easier, and I can do it while driving, walking, or folding clothes. Also? If someone calls and doesn’t leave a message, I’ll assume they don’t need to speak with me.

According to the most recent smartphone etiquette guidelines and my 22-year-old daughter, I’m doing everything wrong.

As new technology evolves, so do the norms of interaction, and keeping up is more difficult than ever!

What Is the Golden Rule of Cell Phone Etiquette?

While it should go without saying that talking on our phones in the restroom or using the speakerphone in a movie theater is impolite, it appears that some people missed the memo.

Both are considered unpleasant at best, but I witnessed both in the previous week alone. If some people are still blind to the most basic tech-related social faux pas, how are we supposed to pick up on new information, such as whether we should text someone before calling them or whether to use the new iOS 17 video voicemail feature?

“Much like everything else, behavior evolves based on the situation,” noted national etiquette expert Diane Gottsman in an email. She noted that as everyday scenarios for the masses change, such as more people using FaceTime and filming films in public places, there are social nuances that are just more courteous, sensitive, and considerate to others.

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Before we go into specifics, keep in mind that what works for close friends and family may not work for commercial or professional connections. In addition, age might influence what is socially acceptable.

For example, I can’t be all judgey if someone emails or DMs me in all lowercase with no punctuation. My 23-year-old production assistant just told me that adding a period even when texting her is considered impolite. It’s as though I’m being passive-aggressive rather than serious.

“You can’t assume that everyone understands and communicates in the same way.” Many abbreviations are related to a person’s age or even their country of origin. “It’s critical to mimic the communication style of the person with whom you’re speaking,” Gottsman continued, especially in client or business scenarios.

Context is important, but the ever-changing standards of modern etiquette are also useful to grasp. Here are a few of the most significant.

Before You Call, Send a Text.

Gottsman, the owner of the Protocol School of Texas, believes that you should now text someone before calling them. “It’s a social courtesy that allows the receiver to indicate whether or not they are available.” “You can assume it’s a bad time to talk if they don’t respond,” she said.

That would drive me mad, Gottsman replied. It takes more effort to react, and isn’t that what voicemail is for, especially now that iOS 17 shows a transcript of what the caller is saying as they leave a message so you can decide whether or not to pick up?

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“You’d think that if someone doesn’t answer the phone, it’s because they can’t take your call or are in a situation where they can’t speak freely. “However, many people continue to call repeatedly, which is a big cell phone ‘no,'” Gottsman said. “People’s lives are busier these days, and we’re all aware of how inconvenient a phone call may be. A brief SMS to see if someone is available prevents an interruption during a meeting, dinner, or a job interview.”


If you’re contacting friends or relatives, or if there’s an emergency, it’s fine to call first.

You also don’t have to answer the phone if someone calls at an inconvenient moment.

Responding to a phone contact with an automated text response is acceptable, especially if you include a personalised response. That happens to me several times a day. If I’m currently on the phone, I frequently type a quick personal answer, such as ‘I’m on the phone now, but will call you back as soon as I’m off.’

  • When is it permissible to leave a voice message?

    When is the best time to leave a voicemail message? If you question someone in their teens, twenties, or even thirties, they will almost certainly respond, “never.”

    Gottsman also believes that leaving a lengthy voicemail is never acceptable, and that most are ignored. “Most people see you’ve called and, rather than listening to the voicemail, simply call you back.” It saves you time.”

It’s also important to leave your full name and phone number, even if they show automatically on screens. “Do not assume that the person will recognize you simply by your first name, or that your message or call back number will be clearly received.” “Make sure they can reach you without adding additional work for them,” Gottsman advised.


Voice is generally preferable to text for dealing with emergencies, essential work communications, and emotions.

It is also acceptable to leave an audio message for family at any time and for any length.

“There are people who want to hear your voice and enjoy listening to your message,” he said. “But for someone you don’t know as well, ask them how they prefer to communicate.”

  • Is it acceptable to FaceTime someone at random?

    Again, if it’s someone close to you, it’s fine. However, as a general rule, no. Set up a video call first.

I recently walked down an hours-long rabbit hole on this topic on both Reddit and Quora, and wow, it really irritates folks when you FaceTime them without their consent. “It’s the same as walking into someone’s house uninvited,” one Reddit AITA subgroup member remarked.

  • When is it permissible to leave a video voice message?

    Another new iOS 17 update allows you to leave a video message when a FaceTime call is not answered. It’s appropriate to show something important to a loved one while traveling, such as a baby’s first steps to grandparents or your gorgeous new highlight to your BFF. (As long as you follow the guidelines for FaceTiming in public, which are listed below.)

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  • Is it OK to FaceTime in public?

    The answer here is dependent on where you are and who you are with. Most people think it’s impolite to FaceTime in public, especially without headphones or when there’s anyone else in the background but you.

The answer here is dependent on where you are and who you are with. Most people think it’s impolite to FaceTime in public, especially without headphones or when there’s anyone else in the background but you.

When using your smartphone, it’s considered good form to keep at least 10 feet away from the next person, especially if you’re using video of any type. Most of us speak louder on our iPhones than we do in real life, so speak gently and be aware of your surroundings before turning on your video camera, period.

When we visited the Louvre around this time last year, there were so many people FaceTiming or conducting social media videos in front of the Mona Lisa that it detracted from the whole experience.

Consider going somewhere else if your antics interfere with others’ enjoyment of any public space. This includes listening to music, playing video games, or watching videos without headphones or turning off sound effects.

Here are some additional smartphone etiquette rules that haven’t changed:

Having your smartphone at the dinner table is (still) not acceptable. The only exception is if you are expecting a life-threatening text or phone call. In that situation, notify everyone around you that you may need to answer the phone.

Shhhh! Use your “inside voice,” and be mindful of your wording. Cursing may be the new “hello” for some, but it’s still considered bad etiquette in most public circumstances, according to experts.

Put your phone aside and don’t check it during meetings, says Gottsman. “Cell phones are a distraction, especially at work.” “It appears as if you are distracted, impatient, or checking your smartphone or smartwatch to see who is texting you,” she added..

Business correspondence should also be kept professional. “This includes both emails and text messages.” You can answer in kind if you have a pleasant, relaxed relationship with your client and they use emoticons. But don’t go overboard. A well-placed emoji is OK, but letting the emoticons take over your message is unprofessional.”

What Does It Mean When Someone Is Phubbing?

Be wary of ‘phubbing,’ or ignoring other people to check your phone. It also happens all the time. When their children require attention, parents check social media. It’s something couples do during “snuggle time.” I just did it to my dog a few minutes ago. I was distracted by a hilarious TikTok video as she was glaring at me to go for a stroll.

These habits are not just impolite, but studies show that they break up relationships, instigate mass conflicts, and may even harm the people — and pets — you care about the most.

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