How To Stop Your Friends From Abusing Your Expensive Gadgets

Hey, friend -- or, roommate/party host/relative/girlfriend's acquaintance -- can I play around with your valuable electronic devices? Can I pick them up and start poking at them without asking? No! At least, probably not.

Gadgets are all around us, getting casually thrown around and scooped up. Sometimes, the gadgets we're pawing aren't ours. But a tablet is not a dish towel. Let's consider the rules of what to touch and not touch.

Hey, Can I Use Your Phone?

Always ask. Always. Phones are intimate places -- we store our bank records, slightly incriminating emails, very incriminating pictures. Extremely incriminating self-pictures. Even if it's your best friend in the widest world, picking up their phone if only to make a quick call or google something is a privileged step into a private zone. Even with no lock screen. Ask first. Make it clear why you want to use it. Alone in a room with the phone? Big nope -- nothing looks worse than being walked in on while going through someone else's phone, no matter how innocuous your intentions.

Hey, Can I Use Your Laptop?

See above. A computer might actually be less sensitive than a phone, in that it's harder to get straight to sensitive things like messages. But you're still on personal turf -- think browsing history. Ask permission. Once you're on, feel free to use the thing like your own, as long as you don't go digging through folders. The browser is like the living room -- once you're invited, make yourself at home.

Hey, Can I Borrow Your Camera?

This is getting into "can I borrow your car, man?" territory. Cameras are on the upper end of portable electronics, with DSLRs getting into several thousands of dollars. Unless you're dealing with a colleague or very close friend, asking for a cam loaner is probably going to push someone into an uncomfortable why-is-this-person-asking-for-my-expensive-thing position. Don't do that.

Yo, Can I Change The Channel?

Again, you've got to be pretty tight with the host to attempt this one -- the owner is the remote's sole master. How about: "Can we change the channel?"

Can I Put On A New Song?

What? God, no. Who do you think you are? Not even the fucking Secretary General of the UN can go into someone's party and change the song on and iPhone/Pod. Even if you ask, the person who says "sure" is probably drunk, and everyone at the party will turn around in one of those record scratch moments and start booing you. BOOOOOOOOOO. Why did you change the song at a party?

Unless it's an incredible song.

But it's probably not.

Don't risk it.

User Manual is Gizmodo's guide to etiquette.

Image: Bronwyn Photo/Shutterstock


    My camera is worth more than my car! I think I would loan my car out before the camera! touch my valuable electronics....I break your ?

    I hate the ones that turn on my phone to max volume that irritates me and screen touchers.

      yes! screen touchers - go touch your own germy fingerprint smudgy screen and paws off mine!! grrrr... :)

      This, but with car stereo's. Have one friend who'll always turn the stereo volume dial in cars up before he steps out.

    Changing the channel really? If you invite someone over to your house and you are just watching TV well then the guest(s) should get to choose.
    it is a BBQ that your significant other/ family member has organised and the grand final of your chosen religiously followed sport is on.

    Can i use your phone?
    Nope, if you need one you should have your own.
    Goes for the other devices too.

    I honestly can't remember the last time someone asked me if hey can use one of my electronic gadgets. And the only person that is allowed to use my computer without asking me is my wife (not that anyone else actually has regular access to it).

    As far as me using someone else's gadget goes, the one and only time in recent memory I've done it is to try out a workmate's nexus 7 (and I did ask, not just help myself to it). I then ordered one the next day :P

      Yeah, same here. I used to get asked for a loan of my phone sometimes, before absolutely everyone had one, but I couldn't tell you the last time that happened. And realistically, the only reason I'd expect anyone to want to borrow it is to make a call, so they would ask because it might be costing me money to loan it to them. But if it was sitting on a table and someone picked it up to look at, even if they started looking through menus and apps and whatever, it wouldn't worry me in the slightest.

    Maybe it's just me, but if I couldn't just pick up my Girlfriends phone I'd wonder what she had to hide. I wouldn't bother reading her messages and I doubt she'd bother with mine, but she'll quite often start flipping through my photos when she is bored (I cover a lot of ground with work and uni and get a lot of good snaps) and I'll quite often use hers if mine is out of reach or to see what new games are available for Windows phone.

      Again, I'm the same. It is just common courtesy but I know plenty of idiots (I'm not allowed to write [email protected]@ple any more) who simply couldn't resist the temptation to invade someone else's privacy.

      What I find really interesting in the article, though, is the thought/belief that you might not want anyone looking at the stuff you have on your phone or laptop. I really can't think of a single thing on either of mine that I would feel even the tiniest bit embarrassed or shy about. And I've certainly never even thought about taking a photo of myself in my life. It's bad enough I have to occasionally pass mirrors.

        You allude to it like that again and it'll be deleted...ALWAYS WATCHIN'!

    This sort of thing has been a bit of a problem for me recently. I've got an iPad 3 and I was bringing it to work as I was basically using it as a personal assistant.

    Apparently anything in the office is fair game, as one of my bosses started using it to view work on without asking (Even though there is like 3 other iPads going around). I'm paranoid enough as it is with other people using my stuff and this was making me feel really awkward. The line was drawn when a client brought in their grandson, and my boss asked where it was so the child (about 4) could play with it to keep entertained.

    Suffice to say my iPad stays at home on the coffee table now.

      The only thing there that would annoy me is the lack of respect shown. As long as they asked, I wouldn't have a problem with any of that, even the 4 year-old.

    Wow, misleading title strikes again! It says this is a guide on how to stop people from touching your stuff, and then just ends up with a list saying that the writer doesn't want people touching his stuff. Thanks for the utterly useless info!

    That said, I hate people touching my phone. Not necessarily because I don't want them looking at its contents, I trust most of my friends not to do that, but because it's an iPhone 4S without a case, and I treat it with kid-gloves in order to keep it looking pristine and scratch-free. Most of the time my phone is either in my pocket or hands, and when it's not, it's resting on a soft surface that won't scratch it. When a friend picks up my phone and drags it over a table with bits of grit on it I cringe so hard.

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