Sidebarring: the rudest thing you can do with a phone



Most of us have a secret text-message conversation about somebody who’s in the same room … but should you?

Name: Sidebarring.

Age: In current form, very young. In concept, ageless.

Appearance: Shady.

Are we talking about what lawyers do in American procedural dramas, your honor? No.

New post-Brexit anti-immigration policy? No, and don’t give them ideas.

What, then? It’s the practice of carrying out a secret conversation via your phone while you’re in a meeting or at a party and so on. And particularly the practice of doing so when the subject of your conversation is in the room with you.

No! Yes!

That’s very rude. Very cruel. Very Mean Girls. Very tempting. Indeed. A recent survey suggests that 71% of us have sidebarred, 53% of us have done it at social events and 49% have indulged in the all-in-the-room-together version.

O tempora! O mores! Humanity is awful. Mmm?

I said, humanity is awful. Always pressing innovation into base use. Oh. Yes, totally.

Are you paying attention? Or are you … you’re texting! Are you texting about me? No, no, it’s just this WhatsApp group I’m in. We’re … working out what we’re going to do for the royal wedding.

You’re not. You’re messaging about me, I can tell! Don’t be silly.

You’re one of the 49%! You’re being paranoid.

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you – Joseph Heller wrote that before we even had smartphones! Hang on – GOD THEY R RLY GOING OFF ON 1 – you’re losing the run of yourself! This is just a survey of common practices in modern conversation, commissioned by Messenger to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the sending of the first text message.

Oh yes? And what did that message say? “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. I am darkness, destroyer of worlds and global peace of mind”? Almost certainly not.

What DID it say? I’ll look it up on my – JEEZ THEY R A TTL NITEMARE – phone. Ah, it said “Merry Christmas”, and was sent by Neil Papworth at Sema Group Telecoms to Richard Jarvis at Vodafone on 3 December 1992.

That’s nice. Isn’t it? NRLY DONE W/ THIS LOON. C U IN PUB IN 20?

You’re still typing. I know it’s about me. You know nothing. It’s end-to-end encrypted.

Do say: Words. From your mouth. To other people at a party.

Don’t end up saying: “Ignore that last message. I sent it to the wrong person.”