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Fox News
Fox News
30 Nov 2023

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I used to think of myself as a charitable, friendly person, but the reality these days is exactly the opposite. The me-first, empathy-free times in which we live have afflicted my spirit. And you can do something about it: stop annoying me, and everyone else. Right now.  

I blame COVID-19, which made people forget how to behave in public or be considerate of others, and technology, which has created a self-centered world where no one matters as much as your right to do whatever you want with your phone.  

The result is a world in which I find myself highly annoyed multiple times a day. Chances are, you feel the same way … unless you are annoying, too. 


Study carefully the 18 items on this list. If you do any three or four of them, you are antisocial. If you do five or six, you are a public nuisance. If you do seven or more, you are so annoying that you should just stay home. Be honest with yourself. The future of civilization depends on people telling the truth about just how annoying they have become. 

cell phone in the city

If you use your phone while walking, you made the list of 18 annoying things you should stop doing.

Here goes: 

1. Stop staring at your phone while walking on the sidewalk. What makes you so important that everyone else needs to get out of your way? Look up from your phone and grasp that you aren’t the only person on the planet.

2. Stop using your phone’s speaker in public places like planes, gyms, stores, restaurants, or doctors’ waiting rooms. No one wants to listen to your insipid conversations or your stupid videos.  

3. If you don’t have TSA PreCheck, you shouldn’t be allowed to fly. You just waste everyone else’s time standing in the aisle during boarding, clogging up the overhead bin with your multiple oversized bags. 

Library book shelves

Reading a book is a good way to keep from being annoying.  (iStock)

4. Stop putting up lawn signs, the world’s cheapest form of virtue signaling. Posting a lawn sign that says you "stand with" some cause means less than nothing. Get out and volunteer and do something useful instead of pretending that you’ve made a meaningful statement. You haven’t. 

5. Stop tweeting condolences to dead people. Follow me carefully on this one: dead people can’t read tweets. You know why? Because they’re dead. Am I going too fast for you? Instead of tweeting your last respects, make a donation to a charity they liked, or put your phone down and go comfort the bereaved. Or both. 

6. Along those lines, stop putting up decals of the names and dates of birth and death of people on the back window of your vehicle. Why should I care about your dead person? We’re at a red light, not in a funeral parlor. And no, you can’t mourn on a lease. 

7. While driving, you don’t have the right of way just because you feel like going. Wait your turn, you accident-causing loser. 

Using TSA PreCheck is a good way to stay away from the annoying list. FILE: Travelers walk between terminals at Washington National Airport on April 18, 2022. (Fox News Digital/Jon Michael Raasch)

8. Get your news from actual news sources, which is to say places that don’t also offer millions of videos of 15-year-old girls twerking or pictures of what your "friends" had for breakfast. Don’t let social media algorithms dictate your political beliefs. 

9. Realize that books aren’t made of kryptonite. Pick one up and see what it says. 

10. Delete the lottery app from your phone. Anyone who buys lottery tickets on an iPhone deserves to go broke. 

11. You know that cool tattoo or piercing you’re thinking about? Don’t get it. Tattoos signal everyone that you’re incapable of looking at the long term (one day you’ll be sorry you have it) or engaging in independent thought. 

12. Realize that your Facebook friends aren’t really your friends. They’ve just arranged their lives to get likes from suckers like you. Recognize they’re using you to feed their dopamine addiction, just as you’re using them the same way. 

13. Don’t use profanity with people you just met. Maybe you don’t give a f***, but they might. 

14. Don’t take calls while you’re on the toilet in a public restroom. No one wants to hear you doing business while doing your business.  

15. Don’t forward anything to anyone for any reason, ever (except for this article). You aren’t a professional journalist or broadcaster and the stuff you’re sending is a waste of everyone’s time, including your own. 

A picture of someone logging into Facebook

Many of your Facebook "friends" aren't really your friends.  (

16. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t make that person a racist, a -phobe of some sort, or a white supremacist. People who disagree with you just have differing opinions. They aren’t evil. 

17. Don’t use your phone during yoga classes. 

18. Don’t use your phone during sex. 

10. Delete the lottery app from your phone. Anyone who buys lottery tickets on an iPhone deserves to go broke. 

There you have it. Eighteen ways to stop being so annoying, to me and to everyone else. Okay, I get it. People don’t mean to be annoying. It’s just that we still haven’t gotten used to working outside the home or even being around other people.  

So we’ve lost a lot of the humanity and empathy that we always enjoyed. It’s time to get it back, and the smartest move is to remember what it means to be a useful member of society. Thinking of the other person is the best way to get started.  

And then we won’t be annoying. Or as annoying. But that’s a good start. 

New York Times bestselling author Michael Levin runs, a book ghostwriting firm.