Tech Etiquette: Who Calls Back?

Photo: Alex Mihis via Pexels

You’re on a mobile phone call, and it disconnects. What do you do?

Should you call the person back? Should you wait for the person to whom you were talking to call you back? Or maybe give up on the call entirely? Does it depend on who had the poor connection that dropped, or who’s driving and who isn’t?

It’s a modern etiquette problem, and like many etiquette issues, you can break down the options in front of you using very simple game theory. And a dash of fiat.

For this conundrum, I think it’s easiest to disregard all the variables that we can’t be sure of in the moment: Who is mobile, whose phone dropped the call, who’s in more of a rush, who’s wrangling kids in the back seat, who’s the boss, and so forth. There’s only one variable to mind: Which one of you placed the call? So let’s look at the outcome chart to see what can happen to the call given the actions of the caller and the callee:

This, then, is the codification of a rule that many people know for dealing with dropped phone calls — and that many people don’t. Caller Calls Back. Every time. It is so decreed.

Next time: Do you have to be polite to Alexa?