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Hey, Rock Star, Lower Your Voice

August 11, 2005

Because this blogger truly feels compelled to rant about poor cell phone etiquette whenever the opportunity arises, I must point out AP’s article today about loud cell phone users and the genuine annoyance they inflict upon others around them.

 

(I particularly enjoyed the fact that etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart said cell phones appeal to our inner rock star. “I think that it's making a lot of people feel cool if they drive around with this microphone,” she said.)

 

According to the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, nearly two-thirds of Americans use a cell phone, which means getting out of reception range is about the only way to avoid irritating cell phone habits.

 

Movie theaters, opera houses, orchestra halls, live theater venues and churches are now forced to remind patrons to turn off their cell phones or other devices prior to the performance or mass if they want to go without interruption by flashing, ringing, buzzing, chiming or the latest insipid Nelly ring tone.

 

As AP notes, Washington’s Metrorail system has even gone so far as to put up signs discouraging inconsiderate talkers. “Yes, we’re all very interested in what you're having for dinner tonight,” reads one sign, accompanied by a picture of a wide-mouthed Metro rider yelling into a cell phone. The second line says, “Please keep your phone conversations to yourself.”

 

Personally, I think the sign should say, “If another rider can follow your conversation and know what you're having for dinner, you will be thrown off at the next stop — whether it’s your stop or not.” The second line would then read, “Jerk.”

 

Some churches in Mexico have gone beyond recommendations and lectures, and have installed short-range cell phone signal jammers to thwart members of their flock who lack cell phone self-control during mass. Excellent.

 

This does, however, make one think: What are people doing with their cell phones at church? (Text message: “Duuuuuude, the priest just said sodomy.”) (The text-messager would later have to call back the text-messagee and explain that the priest didn’t say “sodomy,” but rather “Sodom,” as in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. But he thought it sounded very similar and was, therefore, funny, and further, was worthy of a text message. That, plus he was bored. Such is the intelligence level of the average obnoxious cell phone user.)

 

The cell phone jammers have caught on in Japan, India and France, but their use is illegal in the United States.

 

Interestingly, while many are clamoring for cell phone restraint, cell phone companies are lobbying the Federal Aviation Administration to permit cell phones on commercial airline flights. But in a poll by the Association of Flight Attendants and the National Consumers League, 63 percent of respondents wanted to keep current restrictions in place.

 

Some say the cell phone is, in fact, still a novelty (“as was the answering machine”) and misuse of it will subside in the coming years (“as did the answering machine”), at which point, as with the answering machine, a cell phone protocol will set in. The difference is that answering machines, as far as I know, haven’t really had any significant features and capabilities added to them for quite some time; whereas new tricks and features for cell phones simply keep on coming, so the novelty never seems to wear off.

 

Cameras, games, ring tones, Web browsing, digital music and e-mail capabilities — cell phones can have all of these things and more. As AP points out, there is a cell phone feature for every cultural niche. 

 

As well, while lacking cell phone etiquette is typically annoying, now there are features that are more inclined to offend — moan tones 

 

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DRB



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