Thursday, February 24, 2005

I hate cell phones

Well, more accurately, I despise the public use of cell phones for private conversations. (And I won't even get into cell phone use while driving... that deserves its own separate rant.) What these damned little things have enabled is the total breakdown of the public/private split. Too many people use their cell phones to conduct what should be private conversations in public places. I have sat in too many coffeehouses and restaurants and listened to too many people conduct too many conversations about topics that really should remain private. I don't want to hear about your girlfriend's bad habits, or your daughter's book report, or how big a prick your boss is (or your boyfriend has). It's not anything I am or should be interested in, or privy to. For some reason, large segments of the population have forgotten how to be discreet, and are airing all their private laundry in public.

This didn't happen before the advent of the cell phone -- not that you can really blame technology for human idiocy. Just because you can use your cell phone to talk privately in public doesn't mean you should. Not only are loud (and they're typically loud) one-sided conversations annoying in and of themselves, the content of those conversations shouldn't be made available to everyone in listening distance. Don't people realize that everyone can hear what they're saying? It's as if they think their cell phone generates some kind of "cone of silence" around them when they're talking. (What's next... Get Smart shoe phones?)

There are several solutions to this problem. First, people can simply learn to be discreet, and take their private conversations elsewhere. But, of course, this is unlikely to happen, because most human beings are self-centered and inconsiderate. A better solution is the return of the old-fashioned phone booth, sans wired phone, which people can use to conduct their private conversations. (This is an emerging trend in some trendier nightspots, BTW.) But the best solution may be some sort of portable cell phone blocking technology, a handheld device that one could use to turn off all cell phone signals within a given radius. The first one of these that gets on the market, I'm buying one. Even better, I'll buy a few dozen, and plant them in all my favorite public spots. That should fix things!

But that's just my opinion; you're free to disagree.


Anonymous said...

Maybe you would also advocate a return to the old fashioned method of writing your blogs by hand and mailing out to everyone you can think of (that would be called "letter-writing"). Or if that doesn't do it for you, at least only using a boat-anchor weighted box and screen at home to do your online work, instead of trying to do it remotely from a public coffee shop. I mean, don't you find it annoying when someone is clickity-clickity typing away at the table next to you when you are trying to have a nice relaxing cup of coffe and conversation? And they take up a whole damn table and are shuffling papers around, mumbling to themselves (these guys are all curmudgeons and they grumble alot) and they just won't leave? And they tend to nurse their cup of whatever for hours thinking that they've somehow paid for the right to take up all that space--like it's rent or something?

The Curmudgeon said...

My rants against cell phones notwithstanding, I'm definitely not a Luddite -- although I'd welcome a return to letter writing, as if that would ever happen.

As to using portable PCs in public places, I think it's an entirely different kettle of fish. While I might mumble a bit and click a little, I'm not forcing anyone to read what's on my screen, as cell phone users do with their private conversations. And I only use my PC publicly in coffeehouses and airplanes, two venues that cater to and encourage such activities.

In contrast, here's where I don't use my PC:

- In crowded waiting rooms
- In movie theaters
- In restaurants
- While driving
- While walking down a busy sidewalk
- While waiting in line at the grocery store

All places, as you know, that cell phone users conduct their "private" conversations.

Here's a story a friend of mine related:

Regarding cell phones. I was at a car dealership with my son waiting on an oil change when a young yuppie type started talking on his cell phone. He was talking to somebody and apologizing for having made it with this guy's girl. There were many intimate details that I and Nathan were made privy to. I don't know, I guess it helped pass the time. However, mostly I thought, "what a schmuck!"Point made.

The Curmudgeon said...

Braingirl notes that cell phone jammers do exist. Here's one. It's a pretty hefty device though, not really the portable thingie I envisioned. Also, at $500, it's a tad pricey. I'm waiting for the $20-$30 keychain-sized jammer to come out. I'll buy a dozen.