Obnoxious Cell Phone Users Create Backlash

The atmosphere was cozy inside the elegant San Antonio club, where a jazz singer was crooning love ballads. Suddenly, a cell phone rang out. To the dismay of performer Ken Slavin, the patron not only answered the phone - but shushed the singer so he could take the call.

On a San Francisco Bay ferry, where "Cell Phone Free Zone" signs are often ignored, a woman was gossiping loudly on her phone. "Hey lady," a fellow rider piped up. "I think I speak for the rest of the passengers here when I say that we don't care to hear about the intrigues of your office, so please either finish your call or go outside." The woman stormed out, to applause.

As cellular or mobile phones proliferate rapidly, with more than 100 million US users alone, so are complaints about cell phone rudeness. It's not just Ann Landers and Miss Manners urging people to watch their mobile etiquette - seething bystanders have had it up to here with the constant rrring of the brave new wireless world.

"No Cell Phones" signs are popping up all over. Restaurants, theatres, libraries, museums, and doctors' offices have imposed bans on the devices because of boorish behaviour....A backlash has cell phone manufacturers so concerned that they have initiated ad campaigns to educate users about cell phone behavior. Nokia Corp. took part in Cell Phone Courtesy Week in San Diego in July, helping to hand out "Quiet Zone" stickers to businesses. Mayor Susan Golding started the courtesy campaign after 73 per cent of nearly 5,300 people responding to a question on her Web site said they favoured restricting cell phones in public places.

You don't have to look long-distance to find evidence of the public's aggravation level:

...Sociologist Jill Stein said that while the novelty of cell phones is wearing off, people still feel important when they use them in public: "Now everybody gets to be a big shot." Like many, she believes high-tech innovations have helped hasten the deterioration of old-fashioned etiquette. "Manners between strangers have broken down," said Stein, a UCLA sociology professor and director of Cultural Research Assistants in Santa Monica, California. "We've become desensitized to each other."...

-Excerpted from The Vancouver Sun, August 3, 2000

Right to Quiet Society Newsletter, Fall 2000

< Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next >

Right to Quiet Home Page