Written by: Monica Hesse
The Washington Post

Oh, no! He?s fading fast! Eyes drifting downward. Responses becoming monosyllabic. No! No, buddy! Pay attention! Did you hear the one about the foreclosed psychic? She was re-possessed. Ha, ha! Just stop that incessant thumb-typing, and give this exchange a chance!

Too late. The conversation is dead. It expired the moment the BlackBerry first vibrated. Now all that you, the former half of two communicating people, can do is awkwardly stand there and deal with the fact that you are less engaging than a 5-ounce piece of plastic. It?s maddening ? or maybe it?s just a simple question of etiquette: What is the appropriate course of action when you have been abandoned for a Personal Digital Assistant?

PDA use exists in a pre-etiquette void. We do not yet have established gestures and rules for behavior. For offenders: May you respond to an e-mail from your mother, or just your boss? For victims: Should you pretend to suddenly get really engrossed in the menu, or whip a craft project out of your purse?

And can someone please develop a sign?

?Give me the talk-to-you-later signal!? Warren says. ?Give me some kind of signal.?

Without an official rulebook, guidelines are individualized.

?Let?s say the person is someone I?ve just (started dating),? says Matt Rogers, a real estate agent. ?Less than a minute of texting is OK; after that I?d walk.?

?What I do most often is pull out my own phone,? Jack Shapiro says.

?Oh, I can retaliate,? says Erin Lamos, who works at a Washington think tank. ?I can be way more engrossed in my iPhone than anyone could be on their BlackBerry. ?Excuse me while I use this iPhone app to play a song on my flute.?

And what happens when one party gets tired of side-by-side typing and would like to tell the other person that it is time to resume conversation?

Mallory Grauer has a solution. That?s when, she says helpfully, ?You just send them a text.?