Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Take It Elsewhere

As my friend and I approached a popular restaurant on Barracks Row on Capitol Hill to have lunch today, we noticed among the dozen or so customers sitting outside that at least three of them were on their cell phones.

Maybe it’s because I’m not an ardent cell phone user, but I really am repulsed by the idea of dining with friends and at the same time carrying on a conversation on a cell phone. I mean, couldn’t it just wait for say 45 minutes? Do these people think it makes them seem more important, more in demand to take a call between the appetizer and the main course while their friends are literally put on hold?

If we can urge smokers to come together in “butt huts”, why not ask cell phone users to gather in similar public places? You may think this sounds extreme, but frankly I am tired of hearing the myriad of ring tones which seem to go off more and more often. I heard one in the middle of a bar mitzvah service last week. Sheesh! Not even God has such a need for immediacy.

Perhaps when I finally realize my phone must be with me and be turned on at all times, I will become just as obnoxious as those dining outside at Belga today. But for now, I say silence the cells and return those urgent calls at a more opportune moment when the whole world is not privy to your conversation!

Am I the only one with this pet peeve?


Blogger Richard said...

God had no need for cell phones, He was served quite well by burning bushes atop mountains.

I also find the "always connected" mentality annoying.

If I go out with someone, I expect them to ditch the cell phone (unless it is really, really, really imperative they be reachable).

People seem to have lost the ability to wait. Being accessible 24/7/365 is insane. I don't race to pick up the phone when it rings (especially not during dinner time or if I am otherwise occupied).

Another peeve of mine is call waiting. I find it unacceptably rude to have someone say, "Can you just hang on, someone else is calling?"

5:33 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Guilty as charged. The worst part is, the generation of children growing up think this is the norm. What happened to the good ol' days of landlines and having to show up to events when you said you would?

7:52 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I lose my phone and/or break it on a regular basis. Every once in a while, I use it touch base with long distance family members while on long walks by myself, but not so much.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I'm with you..they just want to seem important. I heard one go off at a funeral service! Someone yelled out to the guy who had passed away that it must be for him...then everyone laughed.
I've only used my cell phone 4 times in 2 years!!

10:37 PM  
Anonymous David said...

easy solution - put the phone on "stun" ala vibrate. Doesn't make a sound, but you feel the vibrations. Check the caller and if it's important, check the message and maybe call them back in a non public area. Otherwise, ignore it and check the message later.

We just need to learn to manage technology not let it manage us.

12:34 AM  
Blogger media concepts said...

I just thought of a term for these people: "behind bars."

1:46 AM  
Anonymous Bengal said...

My friend Rat has a good solution.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

It's so thoughtless and rude to sit at a table in a restaurant talking on the phone. I believe cel phones are addictive.

Rather than butt huts for cel phone addicts, how about some basic training in good manners? It's easy enough to step away from the diners, get out on the sidewalk, and have a conversation.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Ulysses said...

You ever had to leave a message on my phone? My outgoing message talls you straight up that maybe I'm not answering because I've got better things to do.
I wonder sometimes if the person onthe other side of the call knows how their business is being aired in public like that.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Aileen said...

I kind of walk the line with this one...I do feel the need to have my phone (blackberry) with me at all times. Partly due to the nature of my work, but also because maintaining an active social life tends to take time and work too.

But I am very careful of when and where I use my phone. And if I'm in even a vaguely public place, I keep my voice down. Often the person on the other end says "what's wrong?" and I'll say, "I'm in a public place and I'm trying to keep my voice down."

I can go on and on about instances I've seen that were so ridiculously thoughtless and rude.

A couple weeks ago, I saw two 15 year old girls walking down the street together. They were each on their cell phones conducting separate and very loud conversations simultaneously.

I do think the more used to this type of technology we get, the worse it will become. Someone needs to establish some etiquette standards.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Well, I can see I'm not the only one with an opinion on this! Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. I think David and Aileen have good advice with "learning to manage technology" and "establishing etiquette standards". Bengal's cartoon is such a perfect illustration for this post!

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this sci-fi TV show back in the early 90's. It showed people talking on their cell phones about every little thing that happended to them (like getting a great golf shot etc.) EVERYONE was talking on them.
But this one guy REFUSED to answer his, then he REFUSED to have one. The judge put him in jail. How crazy is that?

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is MMAfan here..Had trouble logging in.

You nailed it. What's worse are those damn Bluetooth headsets. You don't know if the person is talking to you or someone else. Plus they just look plain ridiculous.

It's REALLY annoying to be with someone and their phone goes off every minute it seems. If I have lunch, dinner or any other social occasion with someone, the phone goes off. If I can't give someone my undivided attention when I am with them, then I have a serious problem beyond the phone.

It's also not just the phones anymore, but other devices such as the Blackberry and Ipod that are becoming public annoyances. I though about getting a BB at one time, but I don;t need any of that. The cell is enough.

To be honest, I love the fact that I have a cell phone, but I keep it on vibrate half the time and don't have to have it pressed against my ear constantly.

I really hope restaurants and other public venues take note of this problem and designate cell phone free zones. Sorry for the long rant.

Oh Jessica..I'm with you on that! It seems when the days people the least connected the more courteous and committed they were.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Even though they haven't (yet) proved you can get cancer from cell phones, I love the idea of "cell phone free zones". What would be the punishment for an offender in such an area? Banishment? Stoning? :)

Keep all those good ideas coming. Maybe we can at least save humanity from the cell phone if not from global warming!

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

recently on a trip to Japan i really loved the fact that use of cell phones are banned on public transportation. you may text or play games on silent, but you are not allowed to talk or use any kind of blue tooth application.

the Japanese are the model country with a history based on honor, respect and nobility. i say we take a cue from them and adopt similiar rules on our metro systems here in the US.

also, i'd like to see some comments from the people who are reading this who ARE on their phones all the time, talking loudly. surely not everyone out there can be innocent!

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah..I second your thoughts. I also spent time in Japan and what struck me is that despite the lack of space and the density and crowding, there is a great sense of harmony, order and civility that is just amazing. I'm not saying it's perfect there, but there is just not the asshole "me first and me only" attitude that is so prevalent here.

I'll go back in a heartbeat.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

The Japanese have always been ahead of us on things like this. We would probably start another civil war if we disallowed cell phones and Bluetooth devices on public transportation.

I too want to hear from the other side on this issue. There are definitely more of you than those of us who are complaining...

10:06 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Wow! I must have hit a nerve with this post even though the other side isn't talking (here). Both DC Blogs and Wonkette picked it up. That could be the only reason my stats are making history!

10:54 PM  
Blogger steve said...

yeah, tyou hit a nerve and I haven't even started yet...lily had a cell phone that was constantly daughter is in a state of perpetual texting and its really not healthy..completely OCD...i had a cell when i did tile, but have actually not even had a Phone for 4 years...until three days ago...and i don't plan to take it everywhere with me..I mean, really, how important can any call be that I simply MUST answer and respond IMMEDIATELY? if its that big an emergency, why the hell would you call ME?
Dial 911.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Obviously you were not the object of this post!

7:58 PM  
Blogger Janet M Kincaid said...

I have a cell phone, but it's rarely ever on and it's never on in restaurants, airports, public bathrooms, the office, in my house, at the grocery store, in the bookstore.... Oh hell, let's face it: it's only on when I know I'm meeting up with someone. And then, once we've met up, I turn it off.

Cell phones are a nuisance and largely unnecessary. What is SO important that we have to say it RIGHT NOW? Is there nothing that can wait until we get home or we hook up with friends?

One of these day, I'm going to move to rural America and jettison the cell phone, DSL, computer, and any other electronic gadgets and just live in the quiet....

10:47 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Janet -- Do you think you could really "just live in the quiet" after experiencing all the electronic gadgets of today's world? You might also be surprised at how dependent rural America is on the very things you mention.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Marcy said...

I don't own a cell phone =]! We can do lunch anytime :)

3:58 PM  

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