We’ve all been there. The woman on the table next to you has just been hailed by her phone playing Living La Vida Loca and is now shrieking with laughter at a friend you have never met but would suddenly like to kill.
Good manners are what separates us from lower animals such as pigs and estate agents, and that is why we are herewith presenting our guide to the gadget use that brings social shame. If you catch anyone doing any of the following, advise them to mend their ways at once…
"Let's Google it"
"No, let's not. Couldn't we just have a civilized conversation, discussing this topic at length until we agree on an answer, like people used to do?" According to someone we met at a dinner party (see above) this is another example of Google's Orwellian grasp on our consciousness.
Banging on about your stereo
We honestly don't care if you've got solid gold cables as thick as our arm, a passive radiator, a heatsink and a subwoofer the size of a large boy. You still use it to listen to Level 42, Duffy and Ocean Colour Scene. If we wanted to hear Ocean Colour Scene "as if they were in the room" we'd go to their bedsit, throw 50p on the floor and demand The Riverboat Song, okay?
You've taken your date to the hottest new Italian in town. And then to a restaurant. You're about to ease into your most beguiling anecdote when their gaze drifts to the squatly malevolent BlackBerry on the table. It's buzzing. Soon you're downing a third carafe of house red as they type what appears to be a 200-page report for work, complete with diagrams. "Cheque, please!"
Drippy Facebook Losers
Listen up, Facebooking fop, and listen good. If you're going on a date, missing your significant other, or have just been dumped, the one thing that must be remembered is this: nobody else cares. Why not deal with matters of the heart the old-fashioned way? Be romantic, make sweet love and - when it inevitably goes pear-shaped - drown your sorrows in private. Don't put your dirty laundry in other people's inboxes. Sorry, that last sentence sounds mildly disgusting.
Public transport is bad at any time, but having to sit next to someone who has their awful music leaking out of their headphones makes it so hellish, violence may well ensue. T's resident uncouth gobshite Duncan Bell takes up the tale: "A drunk man wanted to fight me because I had my music on too loud. Ironically, because my music was so loud, I couldn't work out what he was saying until after he'd made off. I was mortified when I realised the truth. I'd probably been walking around for the three years up to that point annoying people with my loud music without realising, because - this being Britain - nobody had dared say anything. On the other hand, however, screw that guy."
Laptops in a pub
A few years ago, the only time you'd see a laptop in a pub was if someone was being beaten with it. Now every bar has a gaggle of executives huddled around a comically tiny netbook, discussing annual sales spreadsheets, and a morose-looking student nursing one half-pint of mild for six hours while surfing the web on the public house's complimentary Wi-Fi. Progress?
Pictures of yourself on the net
Every time you go out on the tiles, your so-called pals are endeavouring to take as many photos of your sweaty, drunken face as possible. The very next day on Flickr or Facebook, all you can see are dozens of shots of you, looking like a smudged Quentin Blake sketch, tagged with keywords such as "drunk", "wrecked" and "tosser". It gives us all an insight into how Amy Winehouse must feel, only without the "strung out on horse tranquillisers" sensation.
Pointless use of iPhone maps
You know where the pub is; you've been propping its bar up for the past five years, but your mate still insists on getting out his iPhone and excitedly getting you to follow his miniature, mobile satnav. What a shame Google Maps didn't alert him to that oncoming bus as he dutifully crossed the road with his head down. Oh well, it's going to be a cheap round for you...
Tech blah conspiracy blah
Where once upon a time the dinner party bore would regale you with their views on immigration and tax after two litres of cheap plonk, now they use technology to further torment you. "That Google Street View? That's like Big Brother in 1984, that is. Computer games cause kids to kill people, too. Pass the salt, would you?" Soon, you're contemplating the sharpness of your steak knife and wishing you'd played more computer games.
Twitter is a means for the terminally dull to inflict their innate awfulness on the rest of us. Over 1.2million people "follow" Britney Spears; Jonathan Ross has 200,000 people hanging on his every tweet, and yet we're still waiting for them to say anything at all interesting. Civilization is being slowly dissolved, 140 characters at a time, and when Twitter finally does bring the world to an end, all that will be left is cockroaches and Stephen Fry, tweeting about his lunch.
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