Ringtone Etiquette

Our scene takes place in a rather nondescript corporate conference room, a large wood table dominates the center of the room and black office chairs are placed evenly around it. A meeting has been scheduled for this afternoon that will gather the region’s entry-level employees, a handful of middle-managers, and one or two senior executives who have made the drive from national headquarters. It is largely a getting-to-know-you meeting intended to impart a sense of membership and responsibility in the newly hired college graduates in attendance. The young men and women in the room were forewarned to pay special attention to their appearances for this meeting: ties have been knotted and shoes shined. The cadence of the meeting is somewhat robotic as each manager and executive in the room has given this spiel numerous times; each emphasizes the importance of everyone on the team, stresses customer service as the greatest virtue, and encourages everyone with assurance that hard work will be rewarded with advancement. The men and women have varying degrees of public speaking prowess, but they all get their points across and have a good amount of success keeping morale high among the troops. For their parts, the young employees do what they can to assure their bosses that they are a professional and bright group by enthusiastically answering questions and remaining attentive. The final speaker is the Area Manager, a man in his mid-40’s who has put nearly a decade in with the company. He has obvious ambition to continue his rise in the company and he begins delivering a very engaging and appropriately humorous speech. Just as he is about to congratulate the employees on what they have achieved thus far, he is interrupted loudly. A Blackberry on the table lights up and “Baby, Baby, Baby, ooooh, Baby” rings out into the quiet conference room at full volume. His focus momentarily broken, the speaking Manager doesn’t immediately reach for the phone that is sitting right in front of him. For a few long seconds Ludacris raps, “When I was 13, I had my first love…” Red-faced, the manager grabs his phone and furiously mashes the buttons on the side as it mercifully goes silent.

A gentleman will note that several rules of basic etiquette have been broken here. First and foremost, the manager’s cell phone should not be at full volume, and should really be silenced or on vibrate while he is in a meeting. This may seem rather basic, cell phones are not exactly new technology anymore and the manners that govern their use should be rather well known. However, as smartphones fuse personal planner, email, and voice applications, we have entered an even newer world of possible faux pas. For the record, let us take a definitive stand on this, it is important that a gentleman give his attention to a person with whom he is in conversation. Personal communication, whether in the board room or at a subordinate’s desk, is of ultimate importance and a great deal can be told about a man by the respect and attention he pays those around him. In this world of instant global communication it is perhaps more important than ever to be respectful to the person right in front of you.

Let us speculate that this particular man was waiting on a very important call. More than ever, our phones are our primary mediums of communication. Let’s say that the executives sitting at the table all know that this manager is waiting on a call from a very valuable client, they may even be willing to excuse his use of the ringer as opposed to the more easily missed vibrate setting. There still remains the issue of song choice. No gentleman would dress like a twelve year old, and he certainly shouldn’t have a ringtone like one either. This is not to say that a gentleman isn’t conscious of current sounds and styles, and like we have pointed out, SEEG strongly encourages men to stop dismissing the musical tastes of their children and try to relate to what they are listening to. However, there is open-mindedness when it comes to the musical tastes of young people, and then there is the point where your Justin Bieber ringtone blasts at full volume in a room full of your bosses and those you are charged with managing. I would say it’s a fine line, but it really isn’t.

Fortunately, the solution doesn’t lie in stodgily insisting that no good music has been made since you were in high school. An Extraordinary Gentleman is most certainly timeless, but he is also a man of his time. There is really no excuse for being out of touch, it’s just cultural ignorance. Today’s music, like all good music, is eclectic and diverse as it draws from old influences in order to fashion something new. Being current doesn’t imply that one solely consumes bubblegum pop, so we offer a (by no means exhaustive) list of some newer artists that are both current and timeless.

The Black Keys

Songs from their last album, Brothers, have been all over television as the backdrops for major-brand ads. Some call them Blues revivalists, but they’re really blending the best of current indie rock with the amazing music of their Delta predecessors. They’ve also displayed impressive range in their work with rappers like Mos-Def, Q-Tip, Raekwon and others in a side project called Blakroc.

Their next album will be produced by Dangermouse, the same guy who produced that “Crazy” song your kids loved a couple years ago, so it should have plenty of pop appeal.



This British soul singer’s music is the very definition of timeless. In another era it would be a Top 40 hit, and guess what? It’s also a huge hit in our era. The go-to tunes from her album 21 are “Rolling in the Deep” and “Rumour Has It”.



This super group is the perfect blend of old and new. On the side of the classics you have Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart, and on the side of youth are Damian Marley and Joss Stone. Their self-titled album is due later this month, but for now you can just enjoy the video and Jagger’s killer pink suit.