You be the judge: should my boyfriend put his phone on silent?  †  Relationships

You be the judge: should my boyfriend put his phone on silent? † Relationships

The prosecution: Ravinda

Derek’s phone constantly pings, beeps, chimes and buzzes – and it is driving me bonkers

My boyfriend Derek never puts his phone on silent and it drives me up the wall. We’ve recently moved in together after three years of dating and now work remotely in the same flat for most of the week.

I noticed it a bit before, but now that we’re living together, it is driving me bonkers. He loves having his phone on full volume all the time. Europe’s The Final Countdown blasts out each time he gets a call, and he has those clanging bells for his app notifications and texts. He takes a lot of calls and I can hear his phone constantly beeping, chiming and buzzing.

I’ve asked him if he could keep his phone on silent, but he says that the alerts help him stay focused and on top of his work. I tell him the world won’t stop turning if he doesn’t reply to a text or call from a client immediately, but he won’t have it. I used to enjoy sitting at the dining table with him as we worked, but now I’ve retreated to the tiny office we have in the spare room. I can’t concentrate with all the noise.

It’s not just work – he keeps his phone on loud in the evenings, too. Our conversations and private time are constantly interrupted by alerts announcing some Instagram updates.

Derek’s phone is constantly glued to his hand, and he lights up when it pings. It’s a dopamine thing, I suppose. I think he’s addicted to it.

The only other people I know who have their phones on full volume are over-60s who aren’t very good with technology. Derek and I are only in our early 30s. He should know how to use his phone on silent.

At night I’ve forced him to put his iPhone on “do not disturb” mode so we can sleep uninterrupted, but even that was a big deal for him. He said: “What if there’s an emergency?” But if it’s midnight, we shouldn’t be disturbed.

Derek suffers from phone Fomo (fear of missing out), but he needs to turn the volume down when he’s working in the house. If he won’t, I’ll have to ask him to move to a co-working space. I am not putting up with it any longer.

The defence: Derek

Phone notifications are supposed to make a sound. That’s how notifications work

The sound on my phone is always on. Phones make a sound for a reason – so that we can stay on track of our notifications and messages. I don’t know why Ravinda is so offended by this concept. Having the sound on is not an “older people” thing, like Ravinda always jokes. Lots of people I know think keeping your phone on silent mode is annoying.

I don’t have a particularly stressful job, but I do work from home and manage my own digital marketing business. I’m constantly arranging calls and replying to my clients, so of course I want to keep everyone happy. Ravinda’s role isn’t as full-on as mine, so perhaps she doesn’t understand. Yes, my phone volume is turned up to the max, but I like it that way. I don’t think my ringtone is any more annoying than the next person’s, and the sound for my notifications is the default option on the iPhone.

Perhaps I do get a bit of a thrill out of feeling busy all the time. I don’t want to miss out on what’s going on during the work day, and in the evening I like to keep up to date with social media posts. I also have sound alerts for my emails and trending news topics that interest me: anything crypto-related, for example.

I used to keep the sound on during the night when my phone was charging near my bed, but I’ve stopped that at Ravinda’s request. I suppose it’s better for us both if we can sleep without it going off. Sometimes I do worry that I’ll miss out on a last-minute request from a client or a finance update though.

Ravinda said she couldn’t work next to me because of my phone alerts, but that’s not true. We’re both frequently in meetings and on calls, so surely it’s best if we have our own space so we don’t distract one another. It’s not my phone’s fault that we have to work at home.

I can try to be more present after work and not be as focused on my notifications when they aren’t super-important. But I will continue to have my phone on full volume. It makes my life easier.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Derek put his phone on silent?

Derek, there’s no need for full volume and all the alerts that are bleeding into your home lives. There’s no excuse for that level of intrusion: you can get notifications through vibrating alerts or a smart watch. The lack of compromise shows a lack of consideration for Ravinda. Be the better person here.
Simon, 48

Derek needs to ask why he derives so much of his self-worth from clients and pings on his phone. Rather than undermining Ravinda, he ought to think about accommodating and prioritizing her presence when they’re sharing space and time.
Sophie, 34

Perhaps Derek and Ravinda can work in separate rooms in “office” houses, then Derek’s phone can be as loud as he likes. Because even when a phone is on silent, phone conversations by either of them will distract the other when sharing a work space.
Tone, 61

Sharing a work and home space requires negotiation and compromise. For harmony, Derek needs to find a decibel level and tone agreeable to Ravinda. There’s a thrill to switching your phone to silent!
Sharon, 54

Derek is guilty. It’s inconsiderate to have your phone on full volume without a very good reason, especially when people are trying to work. He should either work elsewhere or get a different, quieter notification setup, like a smartwatch that vibrates.
Kathryn, 25

You be the judge

So now you can be the judge. In our online poll below, tell us: should Derek put his phone on silent?

We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.

The poll will close on Thursday 16th June at 9am BST

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Last week’s result

We asked if Sally should start clearing out her old books, as the clutter annoys her husband Andy.

79% of you said no – Sally is innocent
21% of you said yes – Sally is guilty

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