Saturday, July 30, 2011

No Cell Phones!

My husband and I were having a conversation today about all of the annoying things that people do when talking on their cell phones. Of course there is the typical complaint about people who just walk around everywhere they go talking on the phone. And even worse are the ones who are talking ridiculously loudly everywhere they go.

Then there are the people who wear their bluetooth headset all the time, so you can never tell if they're talking to you or to someone on the phone. Or the people who, for reasons nobody can figure out, use the speakerphone while they're walking around in public. (Seriously. What's that about?)

It has become very common to walk into a business and see signs posted that say "No Cell Phones" or "Please Turn Off Your Cell Phones." The understandable reason being, of course, that it's distracting and/or irritating to everyone else in the room if people are using their cell phones. I'm totally on board, and don't have a problem with the "no cell phones" policies.

My counter-argument, however, is that it's equally annoying to have to listen to someone have a disturbingly loud conversation with the person sitting in the next chair. Just because both of you are in the same room, and there is no phone involved, doesn't mean I need to hear every detail about how your date went last night, or what a jerk your boss is.

I'm not saying people shouldn't talk to each other. I'm just pointing out the irony that people make such a big fuss about people using phones, but don't complain so much about other loud or disruptive conversations. Let me give you an example:

One day my husband had dropped me off at the college library to do some homework while he and the kids went out. They came back a few hours later, and rather than park and get the kids out to come in and find me, he called me to let me know he was here. I answered the phone, and said (very quietly) "You here? Ok. I'll be right out" and hung up.

Just then one of the library employees happened to be walking by and said "You aren't talking on a cell phone... are you?" (He somehow managed to be weirdly threatening and condescending at the same time.) I just said "nope" and got my stuff together and left.

This wouldn't have been a big deal, and I probably wouldn't have thought anything about it at all, except that sitting at the row of computers directly across from me was a group of four or five students who had been having very loud, very distracting conversations the entire time they had been there. But apparently that was ok, because at least everyone was in the room, and nobody was using a phone.

I don't think anyone should get rid of their "No Cell Phones" signs. It's just that whenever I see one of these:

No Cell Phones

I'd also like to see one of these:

No Loud Conversations With the People Around You


  1. Here's my peeve about the library. When the librarians have loud conversations and then come and inform me that my children are being too loud playing with the toys they have provided for my children to play with.

    I agree completely with your peeve.

  2. Totally agree! Some people use whatever means are available to be selfish & rude.
    Our elementary school posts no cell phone signs in the driveways where parents pick up & drop off their kids, but they still talk, most via hands-free, and often don't even acknowledge the kids when they get in the car. I know you've seen parents setting bad examples for their children.
    ... though some situational restrictions do try to take it a little too far. I attend many teacher workshops where, within introductions, they almost always insist that attendees turn off phones. I don't think OFF is necessary; SILENCED is better. When I lead workshops, I explain that I understand that most attendees are parents and the emergency contact for several people. I've received urgent communication several times when event authorities insisted on no cell phone use. I get it. So I instruct attendees who receive urgent calls or texts to please take them quickly outside the room, then let us know if we can help.
    So... whose responsibility is it to establish & teach social etiquette for public technology?