Tech Etiquette: Is it OK to Plug In and Power Up in Public?

Tech Etiquette: Is it OK to Plug In and Power Up in Public?

Taryn Williford
Mar 28, 2011

Gah! Being a respectable member of society is hard. We constantly have to check ourselves to make sure that our tech actions are polite, cool and in-line with public opinion. And yet, here's another stick for the etiquette fire: Is it cool to plug in your cell phone in public? At a friends house? The library? At a doctors office?

It's hard enough figuring out where to use your cell phone (Hanging with friends? Out to dinner?). But once that battery's been drained, you'll need to find an appropriate spot to plug it in.

Assuming you have your cell's cord with you, any outlet in any place could fuel your phone. But where is it OK? And where is it just polite to refrain?

Here are our ideas:

  • At a friend's home: This seems cool to us. Just ask your friend for permission and to point you towards an open outlet.
  • At the library: We think this one's OK, too. As long as you don't have to unplug anything to power up your phone, it seems alright to plug in while you're studying. We'd put the same rule in place at a coffee shop or other place where you'd find hard-at-work laptop-lurkers.
  • At the doctor's office: Just wait. You don't know how long you'll be waiting in that waiting room. And we wouldn't want to plug up inside the examination room, even if there is an open outlet.
  • At the airport: Go for it! If you can find an open outlet, we don't see any reason not to fill up while you're waiting to board.
  • At a restaurant: Maybe. If there's an open outlet close to your table, go ahead and ask for permission from the host or waiter to plug in.

Do you agree with our suggestions? Can you think of another spot where it's OK (or just plain rude) to plug in? Tell us in the comments!

(Images: Flickr member jono dot com licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member jonlesser licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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