Use Airplane Mode To Silence Your Phone

Use Airplane Mode To Silence Your Phone

We’ve talked about mobile phone etiquette in the past, and one of the first rules is putting your phone on silent when others are around. Blogger Patrick Rhone offers a more conversation-friendly solution: Put it in Airplane Mode.

Staying polite has gotten even harder with the advent of smartphones. Now, you’re not just getting calls and text messages, but emails, Facebook posts, Twitter mentions and all other sorts of notifications that could distract you from the people around you. Just because your phone’s a distraction doesn’t mean you have to turn it off entirely, however:

[My friend’s]iPhone was all business – ringing, beeping, and buzzing with potential activity. . . He picked it up and placed it in Airplane Mode, which cuts Wi-FI and 3G but leaves the phone otherwise functional. Respectfully, I did the same.

My first thought was, wow, what a show of respect for me and our time together. I was honored and humbled by this simple act that broadcasted that nothing was more important to him (and, trust me, he has other things far more important).

Secondly, it got me to thinking why he chose Airplane Mode versus turning the phone off. After a few minutes at lunch it became readily apparent. We were showing photos across the table about our recent travels and activities. We were sharing tips, ideas and links and taking notes. We were communing and catching up by using this tremendously powerful technology in ways that enriched the conversation, not distracted from it.

Especially if you have rather tech-savvy friends (who may still be sticklers for etiquette), your new smartphone could be a central part of the conversation. Even on mute, though, your phone’s still rife with notifications just begging to be read, and this is a much better solution to a common problem (using a setting that has many more uses than its name would let on). What do you think? Do you still find yourself struggling with mobile phone distractions when you’re around other people? How do you deal with it? Let us know in the comments. Photo by Joshua Blount.

Airplane Mode [Minimal Mac via Hacker News]


  • Definitely a common sense solution. But I’m amazed at how many people with smartphones have never heard of “airplane mode”, let alone know how to turn it on. Especially on the iPhone, where it is at the top of the list as soon as you go into Settings.

  • Really? I use Best Profiles for for this. It changes my phone to silent based off my meeting schedule or keywords. I have enough discipline, and respect for others, to not let the phone become a distraction when I meet with people.

    Of course Best Profiles will also switch to ‘offline’ if you have no respect for others or discipline.

  • Just because the notifications are “begging to be read” doesn’t mean you HAVE to read them. Restraint is a better solution than switching off wifi/3G.

    With silent mode I can still monitor for important calls. I have a young child in daycare. I need to be in touch just in case. Airplane mode doesn’t allow this.

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