You've seen the bumper stickers and TV commercials: "Don't text and drive."

It's not just when driving that texting is a problem.

Texting has become one of the top modes of individual communication. People use their cellphones and "smart" phones for everything from keeping in touch with a friend to playing games to commercial endeavors.

The problem is that this doesn't just happen when people have spare time. It's almost like it has become addictive.

People sit at work and text on company time, not just for a minute or two but throughout the day. It obviously has to reduce production time.

We've heard of teachers in the classroom texting.

Whether at church services, indoor sporting events, wedding receptions, or even funerals, texting is a common occurrence. Do rules of etiquette even exist?

At school board meetings, educational lectures, and in doctor's waiting rooms, individuals are busy on their phones - not speaking - but clicking away with their thumbs to send messages.

In lunch rooms, people don't always sit around and talk about life. They text each other sometimes even when sitting across the table.

Texting is a fabulous invention. But can it get out of hand?

It can promote bullying. After all, texting can be done any time of the day or night to anyone if you have their cell number, even dumped partners or classmates you don't like.

It costs companies money in lost production time not only because employees text when they should be working, but frequent interruptions can stymie the continued flow of work and thought patterns. For example, you're working on a financial budget, interrupt with responding to a text message from someone, then you have to try to figure out where you left off before the text.

Individuals walk up and down the street, texting, sometimes bumping into people. They sit in movie theaters pounding out letters on their mini keyboards, making one wonder how they can follow the plot.

Texters play games, sometimes at work among co-workers in different departments and on different floors, and on company time.

And yes, some individuals still do the dangerous task of texting and driving.

There's nothing more annoying than having visitors come to your home, and having them periodically interrupt your conversations to respond to texts. Didn't they come to visit you?

Has common courtesy disappeared? It's obvious such antics have become the new norm.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com