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Is It Rude to Make a Video Call in a Café or Restaurant?

Whether we’re chilling out on the couch watching Netflix, or out and about doing grocery shopping, most of us are never too far from our phones. This means that we are now making and receiving calls in places that 10 or 15 years ago we never would have dreamed of doing – on buses, in cafes and restaurants, even on the toilet! Whilst some of us still remember the ol’ days of landline phones or having to walk to the local phone box to call your friends, for the younger generation, mobile phones are the norm. This can lead to differing views on what is acceptable phone etiquette. Is it okay to take a video call in a public place where everyone is privy to your conversation, or is it rude?


One reddit user recently decided to take things in their own hands when a customer on a neighbouring table in a café was engaged in a video call.

Had lunch in a decent small cafe with friends, when at a neighboring table a young lady opened a video call. She didn’t use earphones, so the other participants and she were clearly hearable to everyone. After a few minutes I walked over and waved to her friends from behind her, said I wanted to see the faces of the voices everyone in the cafe was hearing and suggested she uses earphones. She stopped the call a few minutes later, blaming me for ruining her birthday when she walked when she left the cafe later. Saying this was a public space and I should eat at home if I didn’t want to be disturbed. I come from a generation when people stood up and went outside if they received a phone call at a table, but feel that I maybe simply too old or old fashioned… or maybe just the asshole… tell me!

The majority of commenters agreed that common courtesy dictates that this is not acceptable behaviour in a public place.

NTA – Nobody needs to have to be in on a private video call in a public restaurant. Is is rude and condescending of her. Keep your private life to yourself, I don’t need nor want to be a part of it.

NTA. It’s rude to have private conversations on speakerphone. Using headphones is common courtesy except for the truly self-entitled. (scrapples000)



At my work, you are not allowed to use speakerphone, even in a private office, only in a closed door conference room.

Last week, I was skiing and on one chairlft ride (6 person chair, 5 of us together, one single skier) the single took a work call and had it on speaker. The five of us started participating in his work call. The guy quickly went off speakerphone. I don’t know if the guy learned his lesson or not, but it sure was fun for us. (Dependent-Panic8473)

Some people thought that there are circumstances in which it is perfectly fine to have a video chat in a public place though.

There are exceptions – if a whole group at a table is having a video chat with some remote party, then that’s OK, as long as the volume is similar to the volume of a person physically present at that table. And if you want to show your mates some short amusing video clip, and there’s half a dozen of you huddled round your phone, you don’t need to pass earbuds between you, as long as the volume is comparable to your normal table conversation. (mmiggs)

However, not everyone agreed that the girl had done anything wrong, pointing out that it was really no different from her having a conversation with someone at the table in real life.

Would you be disturbed if the other person was able to be there in person? Was her conversation louder than yours? How would you like her walking over and telling you she just wanted to see all the faces of every voice she could hear?

This wasn’t about her being loud. It was about her behaving in a way you didn’t like so you shamed her. At best ESH (MyThoughtsExactly)


I take public transit a lot and used to get annoyed at people doing video calls on the train or bus. But then I stopped thought about it and realized I don’t get mad if two people on the bus are talking to each other, so unless they’re being louder than a normal conversation I don’t have anything to be upset about. (Ms_Cats_Meow)

What do you think? Is it rude and entitled to make a video call in a public place, or is ridiculous to think that it’s any different from people having a face-to-face conversation in real life?

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Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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