Monday, February 21, 2011

Cell Phone Etiquette

Long distance traveling always reminds me of why I avoid going out in public. Yesterday I spent about four hours in two airports and couldn't help but to think of the starship passengers in WALL-E. I noted the following during the time in which I was completely unable to concentrate on my Star Trek novel:
1) Out of dozens of people around me, I saw only five who actually had books with them. I was the only one trying to read mine. One person was reading a magazine while chatting with a friend.
2) Approximately 20% of all airline passengers were staring at their feature-overloaded phones. Many of those phones were beeping or otherwise making noise.
3) Approximately 10% of all airline passengers were talking on their cellphones.
4) All airline passengers talking on their cellphones were holding very loud (and inevitably inane) conversations.
And I do mean loud. I often carry my mp3 player with me, which is equipped with noise canceling earbuds. These earbuds are good enough that I can mow the lawn while wearing them and still listen to music at a volume only a couple notches above my usual setting (I usually keep it between 4 and 6 out of a maximum of 20). I shouldn't have been able to clearly hear the cellphone conversation of a person sitting ten feet away while I was wearing noise canceling earbuds.

I'm always looking for new ways to isolate myself from the world

Without fail, every time I got a few pages into my book someone would decide that they absolutely had to talk to someone about absolutely nothing at all. This made it practically impossible to read my book since I stopped being able to concentrate on reading in noisy environments while in college (apparently college brained my damage). The cellphone yakkers completely overpowered the earbuds.

So, as a public service the Atomic Spud would like to remind all loud cellphone talkers of the following:

Telephones transmit sound over long distances:
The point of a telephone is to allow people to talk to each other despite the fact that they are separated by a significant distance. Thanks to Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone, you don't need to yell to be heard far away.

Cellphone microphones have improved over the years:
The microphones on modern cellphones are designed to pick up and amplify the sender's voice while isolating it from the surrounding noise. I have found that I can be heard perfectly well while talking at a level just above a whisper and cupping my hand over my mouth and the microphone.

You're holding a conversation at a very high volume while sitting immediately next to perfect strangers. We may not be able to hear the other guy, but we can certainly hear you. Dozens of unwilling people you don't know are now privy to aspects of your life that you would never have shared with them directly.
To the gentleman in the Salt Lake City airport: I don't care that Walmart didn't have any snowshoes that fit you because you have hammer toes. To the woman with the heavy smoker's voice in Denver: I don't care what your girlfriends say about each other. To the teenagers at both airports: what you accuse your parents of thinking is true; nothing you have to say is important.

Have people always been this way or is this a new phenomenon? Honestly, if you want to broadcast your life to the whole world, post it on Facebook or a blog so the rest of us can choose whether we want to listen in or not.

Thank heavens they still don't allow people to talk on their cellphones during the flight.

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