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Cell Phone Vigilante
November 4, 2007 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Cell Phone Vigilante. Annoyed by a woman talking away next to him (peppering her conversation too much with "like"), a man uses a cell-phone jammer to shut her up. Is he to blame for his illegal behavior?
posted by John of Michigan (209 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
My cell has a layer of dust on it. Jam away!
posted by maxwelton at 12:43 PM on November 4, 2007


Compare with: "I stabbed this black dude because he wouldn't stop jabbering on in that crazy hip-hop talk, am I to blame for my murderous behavior?"
posted by b1tr0t at 12:44 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is he to blame for his illegal behavior?

Well, yeah. People don’t have the right not to be annoyed, even by people who are really, really annoying.
posted by tepidmonkey at 12:45 PM on November 4, 2007


"Is he to blame for his illegal behavior? "

No, he was probably born a douchebag and can't help it.
posted by mullingitover at 12:46 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


In movie theaters, stabbing cell phone users should be legal.
posted by grimcity at 12:47 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]




Compare with... some completely unrelated scenario. Done!
posted by iamck at 12:48 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, real life needs moderators too, huh?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:52 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


iamck writes "Compare with... some completely unrelated scenario. Done!"

So the bottom line is: Breaking the law because you're annoyed with someone is completely related to breaking the law because you're annoyed with someone.
posted by mullingitover at 12:52 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


*unrelated.

Sigh, it always ruins the sarcasm when you have to correct a typo.
posted by mullingitover at 12:54 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Hey ... hi ... we just landed. I'm getting my bag outta the overhead. We're starting to move. I'll call you back to let you know that I got to the front of the plane."
posted by ericb at 12:54 PM on November 4, 2007 [15 favorites]


It would be gentlemanly to first politely inform the offender of their offence, and to ask them politely to shut up.

Then proceed with the high tech covert terror device.
posted by TravellingDen at 12:57 PM on November 4, 2007


Yeah, second-hand spoke sucks. Get thee an iPod, Mr. Roark. Get over yourself. And give the lady your seat while you're at it.
posted by hal9k at 12:57 PM on November 4, 2007


As long as there is a proper tastemaker certification program governing who may have and use a cell phone signal jammer, I'm okay with it.
posted by psmealey at 12:59 PM on November 4, 2007


It would be gentlemanly to first politely inform the offender of their offence, and to ask them politely to shut up.

Although that is indeed its own reward, performing such a public service often earns the gratitude (and sometimes applause) of fellow commuters.
posted by psmealey at 1:01 PM on November 4, 2007


Anti-cellphone Mafioso like the Luddite quoted in the article really need to crawl out of their own sphincters once in a while. I don't see how a cellphone conversation is any different or more intrusive than 2 people sitting there talking: except for the fact that it makes it harder for nosy people to snoop on both ends of the conversation. He was displeased by her speech pattern, so he used an illegal device to silence her. That's pretty close to the pinnacle of arrogance.

There are times where cellphone usage is clearly discourteous: in places of public performance (concert, theater, cinema, etc...) for example. But on a bus or train? Oh please.
posted by deadmessenger at 1:01 PM on November 4, 2007 [7 favorites]


At least two of the links in the post refer to the fact that people get particularly annoyed at overhearing cell phone conversations because they only hear one half of the conversation. Nope. I've wanted to strangle many, if not most, Nextel users, and you hear both sides of the conversation plenty fine.

Beep!

But to answer the question: Yes.
posted by Sk4n at 1:06 PM on November 4, 2007


Strangulation of Nextel users is not only acceptable, but in some cultures it is considered a moral obligation.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:11 PM on November 4, 2007 [8 favorites]


Trying to control behavior with an electronic device? Ewww, creepy.
posted by icanbreathe at 1:11 PM on November 4, 2007


Anti-cellphone Mafioso like the Luddite quoted in the article really need to crawl out of their own sphincters once in a while.

Huh? Luddite? Where'd it say that? I say good for him. A one-way cell conversation is nothing like a two-person live situation. The caller tends to be totally unaware of proper volume modulation, for starters. I can't count the times people have interrupted a diagnostic evaluation to get up from the exam table and answer their phones, or completely ignore my medical assistant while she tries to take a preliminary history and get vitals while they talk on their goddamn cell phone. People that are this thickheadedly stupid aren't likely to understand the first reason why they should change their behavior.
posted by docpops at 1:12 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


But...why is using a cellphone jammer illegal? If cell phone users have the right to infest me with their electromagnetic waves, I should have the same right.

Right? Or is it that their waves are more important because they can transmit data? I'd like this clearly explained...what's a vital wave and what isn't? If I block the waves from travelling through my house, does my neighbour have the right to complain that I'm between him and the radio tower?
posted by Kickstart70 at 1:13 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I do not endorse cellphone jammers, but I do endorse people jammers. One popular people jammer is a knife.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:13 PM on November 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


The ubiquity of cheap cell phones and talk time has really lowered the threshhold of "stuff worth calling someone about", as ericb points out, which just adds to the level of public babbling. Social pressure would be preferable to electronic jammers for shutting people up.

I wonder if the pedulum will swing away from incessant yakking? After all, the person receiving the call probably doesn't care much about the infinitesimal details. One morning my BART train was stopped for some problem, and the guy behind me called his secretary Every Single Time there was an update announcement. "I'll be late for the meeting because we're stuck here for 10 minutes blah blah blah..." (2 minutes later) "Well, now we'll be moving in about 8 minutes." (3 minutes after that) "We should get going in about 5 minutes". (finally) "OK, we're moving again!" I mean, did his secretary really need the whole play-by-play? The constant distraction must be annoying as hell, not to mention deadly for productivity.

I hold out some hope for a future in which incessant babblers are disdained as annoying whiners who waste everyone else's time with their inane twittering. well, only a tiny little hope, but ...
posted by Quietgal at 1:19 PM on November 4, 2007


But...why is using a cellphone jammer illegal?

Because you don't have personal ownership of the electromagnetic spectrum and the rights to its use, both of which are owned by the federal government and licensed to others (radio broadcasters, cell phone operators, etc) for legal use. A cellphone jammer is an unlicensed device that blocks the legal usage of the spectrum.

It would be as if you placed DETOUR signs and sawhorses on the streets around your house because you didn't like traffic. Or if you drove heavy-duty equipment on neighborhood streets at all hours of the night. You don't own the street. Rather, your local government "owns" them and allows for everyone to use them within the local laws.

what's a vital wave and what isn't?

There's no vital and un-vital. Just licensed and unlicensed.

If I block the waves from travelling through my house, does my neighbour have the right to complain that I'm between him and the radio tower?

It's an interesting question if it were the structural elements of the house doing the blocking, like if you lined your house with lead or planted a shitload of trees on your property. But again, if you're doing unlicensed broadcasting, that's illegal -- the spectrum is not yours to fuck around with.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:24 PM on November 4, 2007 [8 favorites]


Even more annoying: seeing a mom talking on their cell phone while at the wheel of their Denali on a busy road.
posted by wfc123 at 1:26 PM on November 4, 2007 [6 favorites]


From the article:
Gary, a therapist, says jamming is necessary to do his job effectively. He runs group therapy sessions for sufferers of eating disorders. In one session, a woman’s confession was rudely interrupted.

“She was talking about sexual abuse,” Gary said. “Someone’s cellphone went off and they carried on a conversation.”

“There’s no etiquette,” he said. “It’s a pandemic.”


I think this indicates the depth of the problem these days. This isn't just common bad manners but people in thrall to an addiction. I wouldn't be surprised if these people suffer some kind of anxiety when separated from their phones.

While some will respond to reason I think it's a big mistake to think all of them will.

Has anyone else noticed that you see fewer crazy people talking to themselves on trains and buses now? They all have phones now (although I sometimes wonder of anyone's on the other end of that call).
posted by dodgygeezer at 1:30 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't have a problem with people talking on their cellphones in public. What I do have a problem with is goddamn nextel users talking with the volume up all the way. Makes me want to stick their fucking phone up their fucking ass.
posted by puke & cry at 1:36 PM on November 4, 2007


I used to occasionally find myself annoyed by loud phone yackers and loud in-person conversations on the bus. It interferes with reading and sleeping, the two most popular activities on the bus. Now I listen to audiobooks via noise-suppressing earbuds, and it's all good. (Better than reading, in fact, since I also get a respite from the whine of the bus itself).

Better than a jammer, someone needs to come up with a femtocell that can insert itself into local cell calls. Imagine the friendly fun: The local handsets find the femtocell's signal stronger and switch to it. The femtocell freely injects your choice of sound effects into the conversation, from an occasional James Brown wail to a random "this is the police - we need this phone line - please hang up!", to arbitrarily conferencing all conversations together, and maybe adding a dial-a-porn line into the mix to liven things up.
posted by gregor-e at 1:40 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Is he to blame for his illegal behavior?

Yes, he is. Just as I'd be to blame for my illegal behavior if he did that to me, and I found out and beat him soundly.

I can't count the times people have interrupted a diagnostic evaluation to get up from the exam table ...

So, you're a doctor, and you're ok with blocking cell phone reception in a public space where people are allowed to talk, because you find it annoying. Presumably as long as no one does it to you, right, because your over-the-phone discussion of medical matters might be important?

why is using a cellphone jammer illegal?

Because the FCC says so.

If cell phone users have the right to infest me with their electromagnetic waves, I should have the same right.

You do, of course, as long as your waves don't block their waves. Their waves are regulated by the FCC as a public good. Being able to talk to people who aren't where you are is a public good.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:40 PM on November 4, 2007


Compare with: "I stabbed this black dude because he wouldn't stop jabbering on in that crazy hip-hop talk, am I to blame for my murderous behavior?"

Oh holy fucking shit. Yeah, you got it, getting your cell phone conversation cut off is exactly like being murdered in a racial attack. Please tell me you're kidding.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:41 PM on November 4, 2007


But on a bus or train?

Are you kidding? I am a frequent user of NYC's wonderful metro bus and train public transportation systems. In my experience, there is nothing worse than, early Monday morning, when you are desparately trying to get some extra nap time to make up for a terrible sleep deficit, sitting next to some idiot kid who is going on at length and at 3x converstional volume about, like, how wasted everyone got on Saturday night.

In those moments, I would kill for a jammer, like these, but usually, I do get up and very deliberately and courteously ask them to shut the fucking hell up.
posted by psmealey at 1:44 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Freebird/Robocop is bleeding : Where art thine comment fables to give us a discursive yet bittersweet chuckle?
posted by lalochezia at 1:47 PM on November 4, 2007


I do wish that there were legal and posted stationary cell jammers in certain areas, like movie theaters.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:47 PM on November 4, 2007


I don't own a cellphone. I don't want to buy one. I don't like any of the 'plans' I've heard described to me because it sounds like phone companies trying to sell me air. It sounds like a scam cuz dats whut it is: a legal scam.

I find cellphones too convenient and it'd be like having a leash on me the whole time and someone could randomly just make me stop whatever I'm doing and have to take this call. There's nothing so important regarding talking to me that can't be done by email. Or leave a message on my regular phone. Or wait till the next time you see me in person.

People who talk on cellphones disregard the environment around them. On more than one occasion I have found myself standing there a nonentity, because the person I was talking to drops their conversation with me because they have to take this call. Suddenly that person is not there. They've transported their brains to wherever that other person is. It's offensive. It's insensitive. It's rude.

People talking on cellphones - especially those new ones that just hang on the ear - look like crazy people without shopping carts and foil on their heads. They're just gabbing away as if they're talking to people who aren't there.

It's eerie being the only person in an elevator without one of those pesky things, everyone else in the elevator is talking at the same time, and none of them are talking to each other!

I'm sure foil hats are going to be the next cellphone accessory, soon as marketing people figure out how to sell them to this baaa sheep cellphone public.

If someone were able to commercially sell a legal cellphone jammer, I'd buy it in a New York minute. I'd be the first in line. I'd carry it with me and I'd have it on twenty-four / seven, and people would have to ask my permission if they could use their cellphone in my presence, and I would then say no. Then I'd probably say something rude about their mother.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:50 PM on November 4, 2007 [12 favorites]


Either you or your monkey need to read more carefully. A doctor's exam table is pretty damn close to the zenith of the big pile of things that aren't public spaces.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:53 PM on November 4, 2007


You will never see a cell phone/pager jammer legally marketed or in use in any public space legally because doctors and medical professionals frequently need to be reachable (as required by their jobs) during hours when they are not necessarily working, even when they're doing things like watching a movie or eating in a restaurant in the same space as you.
posted by baphomet at 1:57 PM on November 4, 2007


I'm jamming this entire thread.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:00 PM on November 4, 2007


In my experience, there is nothing worse than, early Monday morning, when you are desparately trying to get some extra nap time to make up for a terrible sleep deficit, sitting next to some idiot kid who is going on at length and at 3x converstional volume about, like, how wasted everyone got on Saturday night.


Yes, because the New York City subway is such a quiet, contemplative type of place.
posted by deadmessenger at 2:02 PM on November 4, 2007


doctors and medical professionals frequently need to be reachable (as required by their jobs)

It's not just doctors anymore - there are a lot of people with 24/7 responsibility these days. Doctors are the most commonly-cited example of such an occupation, but being on-call (or in an on-call rotation) is like cellphones, a part of modern life.
posted by deadmessenger at 2:04 PM on November 4, 2007


Huh? Luddite? Where'd it say that?


Just because the word Luddite didn't appear in the article doesn't mean that this person isn't an example of one: a person who feels threatened by modern technology, and seeks to destroy it or interrupt it's use.

I can't count the times people have interrupted a diagnostic evaluation to get up from the exam table and answer their phones, or completely ignore my medical assistant while she tries to take a preliminary history and get vitals while they talk on their goddamn cell phone.

Clearly, it is not appropriate to take a phone call during a physician's examination. I don't think anyone can argue that. However, that's not what was happening in the linked article: this was a guy who was offended by the sound of another person's voice while in a public place, and decided to use illegal means to shut them down. BIG difference.

Besides, don't doctors keep a "cellphone users" stethoscope around - you know, the one they keep in the deep-freeze? ;-)
posted by deadmessenger at 2:11 PM on November 4, 2007


Metafilter: Unable to restrain ourselves for the benefit of other people.
posted by landis at 2:16 PM on November 4, 2007


Is the guy an arrogant asshole for using the device? - Probably.

Would I occasionally use such a device, if I had one at my disposal? - Probably.
posted by Bugg at 2:18 PM on November 4, 2007 [4 favorites]


I just got home from seeing a the new movie about Jesse James and Robert Ford. There were seven people at the movie. All were fifty or older. Two had their cellphones go off. One actually not only answered hers, but instead of saying, "Hold on" and scurrying out of the theatre, she actually talked on the cellphone while she made her way out of the theatre. Now this was better than plenty of teens whom I have witnessed carrrying on conversations in the theatre.

We, as a society, would never tolerate any comparable infringement of our senses in similar circumstances. People have to start aggressively calling out these people.

The same woman was also texting on her phone. Apparently, people don't seem to grasp that a light in a dark theatre might be somewhat distracting to others. I am going to buy a small flashlight and wave it around with the beam on the next person I see texting during a movie.

Then I go to Costco after the movie and I am walking out of the store behind some mother with her two year old who is wearing the tiniest skirt imaginable and who looks like baby-whore. The clerk checking items says to me and my wife, "Isn't that girl's outfit just adorable? That skirt is so cute."

Yes, it is very cute. I hope that her mother has some Chlorox Wipes in her bag so that she can clean the cum up off her two year old, too.
posted by flarbuse at 2:18 PM on November 4, 2007


If someone is being inconsiderate with their cell phone, I tell them to cut the shit. But I am going to look into getting a jammer because it' just sounds easier.

No one has the right to be loud in public. If someone has the right to assault me aurally, I have the right to assault the offending party physically. It escalates quickly. A jammer would just make for less irritation.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:20 PM on November 4, 2007


Also, the device and conversation remind me of this thread.
posted by Bugg at 2:21 PM on November 4, 2007


The NYT article mentioned that hoteliers were buying jammers (although no details beyond that were given). I have often wondered if that was why my cell phone never seems to work in hotels, especially in large cities, as if they were trying to force me to use their overpriced phone service. Yes, I know the steel structure of the building is probably to blame, but I still enjoy a little conspiracy theorizing every now and then.

I get annoyed by people loudly yakking on their phones (and it is the volume, not the yakking itself that annoys most people) as much as anyone, but that is balanced by the voyeuristic pleasure I get from hearing the normally private details of someone's personal or business life blurted out in public as though the speaker thought they were in the Cone of Silence.

What really gets me is how often I go in to talk to parents about their kids' impending surgery and the anesthetic plan and one or occasionally both parents stay on the phone (or sometimes play their video game) the entire time, just nodding their head and grunting as I try to explain what is about to happen.
posted by TedW at 2:23 PM on November 4, 2007


I'm surprised at the number of people who are ok with signal jamming and also know how to use the internets.

Cell phone jamming doesn't just stop conversations, it also stops texting and internet access. I personally hate talking on the phone, but I have a cellphone, and I use it to text and surf the web. I'm incredibly polite about when and where I use my phone because I'm considerate of others. However, when other people are not considerate, I'm not deeply offended. People are people, sometimes they're annoying, and if you can't deal with it then go live in a cave.

I will happily report signal jammers to the FCC with the hope that they end up being fined the $11,000 maximum.
posted by mullingitover at 2:23 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


A doctor's exam table is pretty damn close to the zenith of the big pile of things that aren't public spaces.

And because people act like asses in his office, it's ok for this other guy to use a jammer on the train? OK, got it. I guess that means it's ok for you to shoot holes in random drivers' tires because some guy cut me off on the freeway.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:24 PM on November 4, 2007


All I want for Christmas is the legal right to use a stun gun on people who sit on the bus and fiddle with their cellphone set to maximum volume, playing each and every ruthlessly obnoxious ring tone in succession. Is that so much to ask?
posted by cmonkey at 2:26 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Mayor Curley writes "If someone has the right to assault me aurally, I have the right to assault the offending party physically."

You just said that.
posted by mullingitover at 2:26 PM on November 4, 2007


It would be as if you placed DETOUR signs and sawhorses on the streets around your house because you didn't like traffic.

Oh, shit.

BRB.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:26 PM on November 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


doctors and medical professionals frequently need to be reachable (as required by their jobs)

They're also well-paid professionals who can skips public movies when they are on call. They should take one for the team so when they aren't on call, they aren't interrupted by jackasses jib-jabbering.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:28 PM on November 4, 2007


baphomet: "...even when they're doing things like watching a movie or eating in a restaurant in the same space as you..."

Nowadays I make a point to do the takeout thing and not loiter inside a restaurant. I also wait till movies hit DVD and rarely bother with the theater thing.

Today while I was in line at Chipotle, I witnessed someone's child precariously climbing up and almost over the back of a circular booth and darn near drop himself five feet to the hard ground at my feet. He caught himself at the last second and looked up at me and smiled as if this is perfectly normal behavior for a human being to conduct. Just climb on furniture like it were monkey bars.

I almost reached out to catch him, but for all I know current laws would have found me guilty of something if I had attempted to save him but failed, or succeeded in saving him but touched him against his parents' will. I was just gonna let him drop, which means I'd probably be held responsible for his crippling himself cuz I didn't bother to try to save him. It takes a village to cripple a child, y'know.

I bet the kid went home and stuck a fork in an electric socket.

Oh yeah. Where were his parents? Chatting on cellphones. I kid you not.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:29 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


You get a cellphone jammer, I get a signal booster with a battery filled backpack.

Jammers are just one more passive-agressive way of dealing with bad manners. Surely there must be a better way to do it? How about this, carry an air horn around with you, when you find someone talking on their phone, use the air horn. Fight annoyance with annoyance, then we'll have world peace.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:29 PM on November 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


Dickhead yammering on cellphone: Objectivist.
Dickhead jamming cellphone signal: Altruist.
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:29 PM on November 4, 2007


The NYT article mentioned that hoteliers were buying jammers (although no details beyond that were given). I have often wondered if that was why my cell phone never seems to work in hotels, especially in large cities, as if they were trying to force me to use their overpriced phone service.

I've encountered that, as well: at the Doubletree near the Charlotte, NC airport, I got no signal whatsoever - but if I stepped 5 feet outside the front door of the hotel, I had full signal. It's hard to prove that jamming was going on, but that was pretty damned suspicious, and a monumental pain in the ass for business travelers such as myself. The FCC and cell carriers need to cloud up and rain on morons like that, ASAP.
posted by deadmessenger at 2:31 PM on November 4, 2007


at the grocery store this morning i encountered a woman standing in front of the peanut butter and shouting into her cellphone "...crunchy, smooth, extra crunchy and some with grape jelly in it". while typing this some asshole drove past my house with his car stereo playing loud enough to rattle the loose change on my desk. i say jam away. and won't someone please get to work on a pistol that, when pointed at a car, will set the radio on fire?
posted by kitchenrat at 2:31 PM on November 4, 2007 [9 favorites]


sitting next to some idiot kid who is going on at length and at 3x converstional volume about, like, how wasted everyone got on Saturday night.

I'm getting old and crotchety, 'cause I, too, have noticed how most of the young people at work and in my life are simply enthralled with the effects and consequences of alcohol consumption. Like they're continually amazed that when they drink their faces off, they end up doing truly stupid shit.

I don't want a cell jammer. I want a brain jammer. Press the button and thwok!, their brains reboot.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:32 PM on November 4, 2007 [7 favorites]


Cellphone jamming? Weak sauce. Give me a machine that can induce a brain aneurysm.
posted by felix betachat at 2:33 PM on November 4, 2007


woah
posted by felix betachat at 2:34 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can I be a "Cell Phone Vigilante" vigilante? I think when some no-sense-of-perspective-having, technophobic, grandstanding, moronic, social retard uses a device to jam my call, I am more then entitled to break the device into jagged pieces and jam them up his butthole.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:37 PM on November 4, 2007


Just because the word Luddite didn't appear in the article doesn't mean that this person isn't an example of one: a person who feels threatened by modern technology, and seeks to destroy it or interrupt it's use.

and what of the many people who feel so threatened by modern reality, or just being somewhere, that they have to use lots of modern technology, such as cell phones and ipods and laptops just to avoid being where they are with nothing else to do but look and perhaps talk to one another?

what should we call them?

it's just a form of public behavior, i suppose, and not a very annoying one as long as people aren't screaming into their cell phones, but it would be more accurate to call it anti-public behavior - behavior designed to shut the world around you out so you can have your own personal bubble around with you, everywhere - i suppose it's nice, but it doesn't make for much of an experience, or much of a society

not that wandering from one suburban big box to another is a landscape that deserves your rapt attention, anyway

look at how hard some of us try to avoid anything that's natural, raw or messy - you know, like you'd find in the woods or a field - isn't that something a lot like luddism? - and isn't it getting a lot easier and a lot more common to do so?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:42 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Note to everyone using the terms "Luddite" or "technophobic"-- the description's probably not accurate. It's a justification in your own minds to tell yourselves that you're not assholes. But if you have loud conversations in confined public spaces, you're trash. You're an asshole. You weren't raised right. You're a self-centered cock and you might as well get it over with and start voting Republican because in your heart you know that everyone else is second to you.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:47 PM on November 4, 2007 [19 favorites]


People are people, sometimes they're annoying, and if you can't deal with it then go live in a cave.

There'd probably just be other people in the cave, jabbering into cellphones.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:47 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can I be a "Cell Phone Vigilante" vigilante? I think when some no-sense-of-perspective-having, technophobic, grandstanding, moronic, social retard uses a device to jam my call, I am more then entitled to break the device into jagged pieces and jam them up his butthole.

I don't know, drjimmy11, my (admittedly lacking) sense of perspective puts ending your phone call on a much lower plane than forcible sodomy with jagged shards of plastic, but maybe that's just me. Then again, you probably wouldn't be making so many annoying phone calls after being sent to a federal prison, so I guess maybe it's a win-win.
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:48 PM on November 4, 2007


no-sense-of-perspective-having, technophobic, grandstanding

The guy who wants to jam jagged pieces of plastic and metal is the one with perspective here? And the guy covertly ensuring more quiet is the one who's grandstanding?

Is it opposite day around here or something?
posted by Greg Nog at 2:48 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Note to everyone using the terms "Luddite" or "technophobic"-- the description's probably not accurate. It's a justification in your own minds...

Not to mention, cell phone jammers ARE TECHNOLOGY.
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:50 PM on November 4, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm with the "why are cellphones any different than people talking in public?" contingent.

But I'll attach a rider to that that says that a certain percentage of the population are crude, impolite, sorely lacking in any and all forms of manners and social grace. What that percentage is, and how you identify them is something I'll leave up to each and every one of you to decide on your own. My personal estimation is a firm 85%, and that cuts across all age, race, and socioeconomic lines. If you ask me, 8.5 out of every 10 people on this planet are jackasses of the highest order. At a very early age I accepted this as gospel truth. I knew then as I know now that the best offense is a good defense. Basically, there's very little that I can't tune out.

The world is full of minor annoyances. Crying babies, panhandlers, teenagers, anyone who speaks a language I don't understand, The smell of ethnic cuisines I don't enjoy, clinging ever so boldly to the sweater of the nice man next to me on the subway. If you can't handle a loud inappropriate cell phone conversation, then your social kung-fu is sorely lacking.

There's only one thing worse than being rude in public, and that's being passive aggressive in public.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:51 PM on November 4, 2007 [7 favorites]


You know ... this metroplois would be a pretty fabulous place, if it weren't for all those pesky people; cluttering up my world with their annoying music, and cars, and stupid conversations.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:51 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't want a cell jammer. I want a brain jammer. Press the button and thwok!, their brains reboot.

fff, i'm afraid that's what they're trying to do with all that alcohol
posted by pyramid termite at 2:51 PM on November 4, 2007


someone could randomly just make me stop whatever I'm doing and have to take this call.

No, they can't. I have a mobile phone. I don't answer it during meals or when I'm having a conversation with someone else. It's possible to have a mobile phone and not be rude.
posted by grouse at 2:54 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's only one thing worse than being rude in public, and that's being passive aggressive in public.

Yes, those are much worse than murder.
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:55 PM on November 4, 2007


and what of the many people who feel so threatened by modern reality, or just being somewhere, that they have to use lots of modern technology, such as cell phones and ipods and laptops just to avoid being where they are with nothing else to do but look and perhaps talk to one another?

what should we call them?


Normal, I'm afraid.
posted by peeedro at 2:56 PM on November 4, 2007


There is nothing technophobic about wanting people to shut the hell in public space that you cannot easily leave, like a bus or train. The Luddite comments are specious, not really focusing on the issue.

The problem is people's lack of common courtesy when using a a mobile phone. I'm 'on call' 24 hours a day and have to carry a phone. If I'm in a public place like a restaurant or store and the phone rings, I walk outside or to a private place to hold my conversation. People that don't need a firm application of a lead pipe to their cranium.

I'd love to find a way for restaurants and movie theaters to legally block calls.

I completely understand the desire to stop the conversations. Those that don't are simply being defensive about their lack of courtesy to others.
posted by Argyle at 3:03 PM on November 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


Oh man, I miss the days walking through NYC streets without the frikkin cellphone zombies. They are such *idiots* on their phones, yammering away about nothing loudly, standing in the middle of the street, the store, the crosswalk, restaurant, doctor's office, lobby, oblivious of how they are blocking anybody else, causing a log jam on the sidewalk, the line to the cashier, the doorway. gggrrrrrr. *steam out ears*

Gimme one of those cellphone blockers right now.
posted by nickyskye at 3:08 PM on November 4, 2007


Also note that calling jammer-users luddites or technophobic is stupid simply because they're using other technology to counter yours so they're clearly not scared of technology, they just think you're an asshole.
posted by puke & cry at 3:09 PM on November 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


I see that point as already been made.
posted by puke & cry at 3:13 PM on November 4, 2007


I'd love to find a way for restaurants and movie theaters to legally block calls.

Like a Faraday cage?
posted by grouse at 3:16 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I applaud this. I would never use a jammer. And it isn't likely I would get zapped by a jammer with the frequency I use my phone in jamming exposed environs. And I admit it's a chickenshit thing to do. But go for it. The only people it is likely to annoy are annoying people. They can all just distract themselves with one another and nobody will even notice me.

The one time in seven million it leads to a calamitous loss of life? Well there are many many things to be more alarmed about than that. Jam jam jam jam jam away!

The thing in the article about the guy feels some strange "sense of power". Pretty pathetic. But hey, go for it. He might not even exist. The New York Times has made up stuff before.
posted by bukvich at 3:17 PM on November 4, 2007


Yes, because the New York City subway is such a quiet, contemplative type of place.

Your powers of snark are indeed weak. Obviously, except when it goes above ground, cell phones don't work on the Subway, which is kind of a nice feature, come to think of it. I was talking about the Metro-North.
posted by psmealey at 3:19 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think most people are upset because they can only hear one side of the conversation. As a species we long for human interaction, not to mention closure. If it was a speakerphone then it would be less annoying.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:26 PM on November 4, 2007


And what is up with the phones ringing in the first place?

I have a cellphone. I have literally never heard it make a beep or a ring. Why? Because it is on vibrate. Always. As I often have it on my person or very close to me, I can feel it vibrate or hear the vibration. If it is too far for me to hear or feel, then Holy-mother-of-God-I-might-have-just-missed-a-call-I-can-return-in-a-few-minutes.

How is this a difficult concept to grasp? The ringing in restaurants/theatres/etc. is often worse than the talking. And it is so, so easy to stop.
posted by flarbuse at 3:33 PM on November 4, 2007


It's a fact of life that most people are morons, as billyfleetwood has noted above. Why would anyone expect that the introduction of cell-phones would suddenly change them? People live in artificial little bubbles centered around themselves. If you don't believe this, just hop into your car and observe as commuters turn left without signaling, turn right from the center lane, and refuse to alternate when lanes merge.

I have two cell phones, a work phone and a personal phone, and yet I somehow manage to turn them off when in a restaurant. I don't answer the phone when first in a checkout line, when I'm talking to someone, or if doing so will in any way inconveniences anyone else. I turn the phone off before I go into a meeting, that is why I have a message service. I turn it off when in the back-country mountain biking or skiing. But I do this because I'm not an idiot. Howver, I'd be an idiot to suddenly expect all the morons around me to do the same.

Demanding that others not talk on their phone when on a bus is simply asinine. The role of transport systems is not to provide relief for the somnolent . Your inability to manage your sleep schedule is your problem, and public transit is an inappropriate place for any expectation of uninterrupted napping.

I stopped going to movies years years before cell phones became common; precisely because I found the experience ruined by the general public. Thus my home theatre suits my movie watching habit admirably, and with the money I save on parking, exorbitant tickets, and usurious popcorn, I am able to afford my SUV, with it's 7 speaker surround sound system. This is far preferable to any plebian bus. Let's face facts, if you're so unsuccessful that you have to ride the bus, you deserve to every annoyance inflicted on you by the unwashed masses.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:36 PM on November 4, 2007


This thread as a whole needs a little perspective. Sure, discussing the dozens of ways we'd like to hurt people who annoy us is plenty fun---but at least stop pretending that annoying people are somehow new and modern.

Some people are assholes. There have been assholes since we all lived in caves, and there will be assholes until we're all extinct. Cell phones give them another, perhaps louder way to be annoying, but they still would have annoyed the hell out of you some other way if they couldn't do it with their phones.

So, I would ask you (at least those of you who aren't yourselves assholes) to take a deep breath. Count to ten. I know you wish your train ride were quieter, or your in-person conversations were a little less likely to be interrupted. So do I. But sometimes you need to be the better person. Sometimes you need to recognize that living in a society sometimes means putting up with things you can't stand. That doesn't make it better, but it makes you better. Otherwise, you're just one of them.
posted by goingonit at 3:38 PM on November 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


Flarbuse--I don't carry my phone in my pocket or on my belt. I carry it in my bag. Because as often as not, I don't have pockets!

Are you a man? Men often don't understand that aspect of cell-phone use.

So yeah, mine rings. Except when I turn it off.
posted by Stewriffic at 3:44 PM on November 4, 2007


People are people, sometimes they're annoying, and if you can't deal with it then go live in a cave.

Ugh, I hate the catch-all "go live in a cave" response. So we should just tolerate rudeness? Couldn't you just as easily suggest that all those people screaming on their cellphones should go live in a cave and talk to their hearts' content? Why are their desires more important than mine?

Maybe jammers are an extreme response (though I have to admit they appeal to me), but that doesn't mean we have to sit back and quietly accept rude behavior.

I was sitting next to two women on the train the other day talking about banning cell phones in school. One mother complained, "But how am I suppose to contact my daughter in case there's an emergency?" I almost lost it. When I was in school, there was a very simple system for this. Your mom would call the principal and the principal would then come and take you out of class. That way if your gramma just died, you got to hear about it in person, sitting down, hopefully with a caring adult to hand you a Kleenex, as opposed to in the hallway while checking your messages.

I'm not a technophobe, but why is everything so much more freakin' important today? How did we survive all those years before cellphones?
posted by Evangeline at 3:45 PM on November 4, 2007 [4 favorites]


if you're so unsuccessful that you have to ride the bus, you deserve to every annoyance inflicted on you by the unwashed masses.

That comment is so snobby and prick-ish I can't tell if you're joking or not.
posted by puke & cry at 3:46 PM on November 4, 2007 [4 favorites]


At my local video store, the guy in line in front of me was yammering on the phone. The next available clerk called out, "I can help the next person in line -- [sees that the next person in line is on the phone] ... who's not talking on a cell phone." The guy goes to the counter and the clerk completely ignores him, waving me over. I transact my business and nobody helps Mr. Cellphone until he hangs up. That video store has earned my business for the rest of my life. Needless to say, it's not a chain.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:49 PM on November 4, 2007 [6 favorites]


This guy, as described, gets to me because he seems to feel so superior to the jabbering Valley Girl. And no, he doesn't seem a Luddite--after all he's the one with the one-upping technology (the jammer). He's just an asshole who thinks he shouldn't have to endure people he doesn't like in his world, and that with the flick of a button he should be able to neutralize them.
posted by Schmucko at 3:50 PM on November 4, 2007


Restaurants don't need cellphone jammers because they could, if their owners had any spine whatsoever, have simply stated policies that cellphone use is not allowed inside. One of the many reasons why I adore the mom-n-pop convenience store near my house is that it has a large cellphone-with-slash sign on the front door.

Of course the jammer guy shouldn't have broken the law, but one still gets a cathartic little vicarious thrill from it. In my experience, most people who are so boorish as to bleat intrusively in phone or in-person conversations are so self-involved that it does no good to ask them to stop. They just don't get that they're not the axis of the entire known universe. They have no sense of the difference between public and private. When asked to respect the public space, they react as if they're the injured parties.

I mean, students where I teach routinely talk on cellphones in the restrooms. Public restrooms, full of strangers who'd probably prefer that their bodily functions weren't being broadcast to god knows who. Nobody over the age of 6 should have to be politely reminded that this is fucking rude and crass beyond belief.

Also, nickyskye, I'm told the name for people (mainly tourists but also cellphone users) who weave about slowly and block the pedestrian traffic etc. is meanderthals.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:51 PM on November 4, 2007 [7 favorites]


Hypothetical question: What if a device existed that magically extinguished all cigarettes in a 50 foot radius?
posted by Bugg at 3:52 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's hard to prove that jamming was going on, but that was pretty damned suspicious, and a monumental pain in the ass for business travelers such as myself.

If there was a jammer in the hotel, it would probably block you even if you stepped right outside the door. I'm no engineer, but probably what happened is that the walls were blocking the signal and you had no clear transmission path to the cell tower. Once you stepped outside the signal could bounce around as it pleased.

The reason it's called a "cellular" network is that there's a lot of low-power towers, each covering a cell in the network, and they pass you from tower to tower as you move. Individual towers aren't particularly high-powered, hence gaps in coverage.


Also, while I hate cell users as much as the next person, I see jammers as more problematic. If jammers were readily available, every mugger in the world would have one, and I can't see that as a good thing. And that's true even if they're mugging a person yakking on a cell phone. Barely.
posted by spiderwire at 3:53 PM on November 4, 2007


Hypothetical question: What if a device existed that magically extinguished all cigarettes in a 50 foot radius?

Sadly, it doesn't help. After you hose everyone down with the fire-extinguisher they just get angry at you.
posted by spiderwire at 3:56 PM on November 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


A person has a problem, uses a technology to solve that problem, and other people call him a ludite/technophobe and threaten to smash his bit of technology? Right..
posted by Chuckles at 3:58 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oftentimes responding to their half of the conversation will drive the point home. People forget that others can hear them, because they are in their own private mental bubble when they talk on the phone.

Phone user: "So, Steve and Susan can't make the party tonight."

Fellow rider on bus: "Oh, man, that's so sad! I hope they're all right!"

Phone user: *stares*

Fellow rider on bus: "Do you think it's because Susan has the clap again?"

Phone user: *hangs up*
posted by tzikeh at 4:12 PM on November 4, 2007 [27 favorites]


It was a joke P&K.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:13 PM on November 4, 2007


Also - if I talk on the phone on a bus or train, I talk very, very quietly. Just because I am in a noisy place doesn't mean I have to shout to be heard where the person I'm talking to can hear me. For example, if they're at home, they can hear me just fine. And if I put my finger over my other ear, I can hear THEM just fine, without bothering other riders.
posted by tzikeh at 4:13 PM on November 4, 2007


I said:There's only one thing worse than being rude in public, and that's being passive aggressive in public.

and then you said:Yes, those are much worse than murder.

And then I responded with a clever comment about how completely obtuse it is when people fail to recognize an idiomatic phrase used in the context of the conversation at hand.

ahem...

To me, the point at hand is that public rudeness is nothing new, and didn't materialize with the first cell phone. But we have time honored ways of dealing with public rudeness. This is whyI don't fart audibly at tea parties. The people who can't handle cellphones and feel they must resort to buying a jammer suffer from from the same malady as those who cant figure out the proper etiquette for using a cell phone.

This inability to cross the social gap, identify, and communicate with others, even (especially?) strangers is a problem that manifests itself in many ways. This is but one of them. Bringing up murder in a conversation about cell phones and public rudeness is yet another.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:17 PM on November 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


I was on a public bus once where a man had a very loud and long conversation on his cell. When he finished the homeless-looking man across from him started reaching for the phone while saying: "Gimme here." Cellphone guy looked a little alarmed, homeless guy simply says: "Lemme make a call." Homeless guy was completely serious. The guy with the phone looked completely freaked out. It was a fun little performance to watch. Sometimes I really love the theater of public transit.
posted by dog food sugar at 4:18 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


It was a joke P&K.

Whew, ok. That's what I was hoping. Let me wipe all this foam off my mouth.
posted by puke & cry at 4:19 PM on November 4, 2007


Metafilter - we don't fart audibly at tea parties.

Yer killing me here, billy.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:20 PM on November 4, 2007


"meanderthals"ha! Way cool. Cellphone zombies was helpful too.

"second-hand spoke" Love it! Great new vocab.

that with the flick of a button he should be able to neutralize them

ooooh, lovely fantasy. *anti-cellphone grin*

It amazes me when people are *in the middle of an event*, like a wedding, a birthday, a celebration, a party, in the Halloween Parade, at a restaurant, a ballet, performance and on their damn phone. It makes no sense. Why are they unable to be where they are, rather than reporting on it to somebody who is not there? Does reporting the event to somebody who is not there make the event more real? Standing next or near to the idiot on the phone definitely diminishes being a part of the event in the present moment for others and the person on the other end isn't made more there by being on the phone. Being-there-by-proxy? It's like the phone yammerers want to be in two places at the same time, bragging to the other person not there and halfassedly being at the event.

I don't see how a cellphone conversation is any different or more intrusive than 2 people sitting there talking


That difference a very interesting phenomenon. People talking together speak in a different tone of voice than on the phone, the volume is definitely louder on the phone and on the phone it's often inappropriately out of touch with the environment. Or the phone conversations are really banal and there is a sense of the yammerer being separate from the environment in which the conversation is taking place.

I think it boils down to people addicted to cellphones not being able to handle being on their own or in the moment, meanderthaling their way through shopping aisles, streets and life itself.

Gimme that damn jammer gizmo!
posted by nickyskye at 4:21 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


The problem is people's lack of common courtesy when using a a mobile phone. I'm 'on call' 24 hours a day and have to carry a phone. If I'm in a public place like a restaurant or store and the phone rings, I walk outside or to a private place to hold my conversation. People that don't need a firm application of a lead pipe to their cranium.

And therein lies the crux. I don't often use my mobile phone but when I do I make the call quick, I always speak softly because I know my phone's mic is smart enough to pick out my voice and I don't want to annoy the people around me.

I'll never understand how people can think they're going to get somewhere by substituting loudness for call quality. If you're that hard up on coverage on your 6 year old beaten up 3210 it's probably time to buy a new mobile phone and switch over to UMTS.

I remember one time when I had an important call at the service station. I finished the call as quickly as I could and apologised to the attendant for being so rude for talking on my phone for half of the transaction. Her response?

"Oh it's fine. You wouldn't believe the number of people who just toss their card at me and keep going on their phones."

I guess the problem with common courtesy is that it isn't all that common.
posted by Talez at 4:21 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


No one has the right to be loud in public.

Let them be loud in public. However, when I travel to London by train, I travel in the Quiet carriage. That means no cellphones, no radios, no MP3 players. Just shut the fuck up. You've got the rest of the train to be a yapping arsehole in.

Yet not only do people still use their cellphones, they continue to use them when I politely ask them to stop.

In the past, I've interpreted this to mean that anarchy has broken out, and so I feel perfectly free to start smoking as well. For some reason, the same people often think this rude, despite the lack of a no smoking sign in that carriage.

In future though, I'm gonna get me a cellphone jammer. I might even build my own.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:23 PM on November 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


How did we survive all those years before cellphones?

it was horrible - people would have to bring books with them or read magazines in the office as they waited, or talk with each other, or actually, horrors of horrors, have to interact with the people they were there to interact with, whether it be a store, work, or school

why sometimes people would even expect that you would pay attention to them and what they were saying and doing and because it was important, you'd actually go along with them

dark, dark, times - it's so much better now that we can just call the people we want to deal with on the phone and pretend the rest of the world isn't there
posted by pyramid termite at 4:31 PM on November 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


I don't really understand why people get so mad about people talking on their cell phones. Sure if they are talking too loud that's rude, if they are talking while ordering their cup of coffee that's rude, but if you wouldn't have a problem with a person having a conversation with the person next to them, why do you care if they are on their phone having that conversation?
posted by whoaali at 4:41 PM on November 4, 2007


As the technologically advanced, we have a long-standing habit of blaming users for incorrect usage. Perhaps the problem is that the technology is poorly designed and that there's a technological solution.

Dave Farber explains how adding a simple voice-feedback loop into current cellphones will moderate the spoken voice down in the same way as landlines do.
posted by quiet at 4:46 PM on November 4, 2007


I actually enjoy listening to peoples conversations, mostly the one-sided ones. See if I can figure out what they're talking about. I figure they don't care that I'm listening or they wouldn't be talking in public. It's just the rude assholes I don't know.

Oh and unfortunately a jammer wouldn't stop people from idly cycling through their ringtones when they get bored. That's just freaking ridiculous.
posted by puke & cry at 4:49 PM on November 4, 2007


I just went to the grocery store in between my second and third posts.

Here, in order, is what I witnessed.

A car parked in a driveway blocking the sidewalk, forcing the pedestrians going by out into the street. Yet the driveway was empty in front of the car for a distance of at least 50 feet. The driver could just as easily have pulled forward 7 or 8 feet and not endangered or inconvenienced anyone.

At the busy intersection at the end of the block, a car double-parked ,while the passenger got out to buy vegetables at the produce store. This blocked all traffic attempting to cross the street or turn right. Horns then commenced blaring.

At the supermarket a dog leashed to railing right in front of the automatic doors, barking loudly at everyone who went by.

Inside the supermarket, a woman with a stroller trying to decide which size shopping basket to pick, while everyone behind her stacked up in the doorway, where the barking dog was giving tongue.

A pan-handler at the the bank-machine accosting those who had just removed their cash.

On the corner outside, pedestrians standing with their toes over the edge of the curb as vehicles roared by on the very narrow street at 60 kmh. Two people have been severely injured at this very corner this summer. When I suggested to the elderly man doing this that he might want to step back for his own safety, he became angry and abusive.

At the bakery, three people having a conversation in the doorway, finally deciding to come in, but through the exit. One actually pushed me to the side, as I attempted to exit through the correct door.

Not one of those people was using a cell phone, and yet they were inconveniencing others in a direct way.

Total distance covered - 4 blocks.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:49 PM on November 4, 2007


rude assholes I don't like.
posted by puke & cry at 4:51 PM on November 4, 2007


These checkout line anecdotes remind of of my conception of the checkout line trifecta-getting behind someone on a cell phone, writing a check, and arguing with the person on the register about the correct price of something.
posted by TedW at 4:53 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Interrupt a mobile conversation at your own peril. (NSFW?)
posted by milquetoast at 4:58 PM on November 4, 2007


short answer: it is illegal in the US.
posted by Postroad at 5:01 PM on November 4, 2007


Here, in order, is what I witnessed ...

... a guy telling an old man how he should stand ...
posted by Bookhouse at 5:15 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Chuckles writes "A person has a problem, uses a technology to solve that problem, and other people call him a ludite/technophobe and threaten to smash his bit of technology? Right.."

A person has a problem with a technology, uses a technology primitive tool to solve that problem, and other people call him a ludite/technophobe and threaten to smash his bit of technology? fine him in accordance with the law. Right..

Fixed that for ya.
posted by mullingitover at 5:30 PM on November 4, 2007


Two, probably contradictory thoughts:

First, the folks we might consider most insensitive and rude may very well be in desperate need of attention. Really - why else make those calls and have those conversations unless you desperately need to be paid attention. Whether it's deserved or a friendly way to go about it is a behavior problem we can socialize out. Jamming the conversation doesn't condition against the behavior, just delays it. Various tactics above (from the abusive to the clever) are the 'frown power' for this social ill.*

Second, with regard to the jamming: when your frustration and inconvenience is, as it will inevitably be, weighed against the interruption of a life-and-death cel conversation you should be prepared for the inevitable 'terrorist' label. You were the one using electronic countermeasures to wreak havoc. Whether someone else was being rude or not is irrelevant if someone dies because you pressed a button on a gizmo.

So, fantasize and complain all you want - the catharsis is clearly needed. Just know that this is the kind of thing that gives technical solutions a checkered history when used to address social ills.

*No, this is no civil rights matter but the effect of group disapproval on an individual holds.
posted by abulafa at 5:32 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dude, use your primitive tool a little, and you'll discover that they are actually quite sophisticated bits of electronics.
posted by Chuckles at 5:58 PM on November 4, 2007


...you should be prepared for the inevitable 'terrorist' label... --abulafa

I prefer to think of it as asymmetric warfare.
posted by Bugg at 6:12 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whether someone else was being rude or not is irrelevant if someone dies because you pressed a button on a gizmo.

You say that as if it were a bad thing.

Seems to me the taking of lives is done almost casually these days.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:22 PM on November 4, 2007


What we need is a capital punishment jammer and a unnecessary wars jammer.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:24 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Model CS008, $950. ouch.130 quid. Legality.
posted by nickyskye at 6:52 PM on November 4, 2007


Oh yeah. Where were his parents? Chatting on cellphones. I kid you not.

Yes, because cell phones are responsible for the advent of inattentive and irresponsible parenting.
posted by baphomet at 6:54 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Stories like this are why I've decided to hate everyone by default.
posted by pompomtom at 6:55 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Madame K's pizza in Ballard (Seattle) is cell-phone free, and good pizza to boot.

Scenes from the past few months:

1) When there are two or more young men in a car thump-thumping away, do they ever talk to each other? When I was a young man, the big part of cruising around with my buds was jabbering with each other, exchanging gossip, talking about girls and cars, and all that. Has that been traded for just sitting in a thumping box?

2) At a gas station last year a physician pulls up in a convertible playing some sort of "self-help" tape at an ungodly volume. I know he was a physician because the tape was all about "having your team blah blah patients blah blah." I mean, this must have been 110 decibels. And yet he spent ten minutes filling his tank and such without a thought as to whether any of the rest of us wanted to hear his sad little tape.

3) Ferry line. Nice summer night. F. Joe Lawyer (they always use an initial and then their middle name, it's "sophisticated") comes back to his Porsche convertible, right next to me, slightly drunk, and says, out loud to himself "need some tunes!" Guess what? Peaceful evening ruined by another shithead's self-indulgent Journey CD, for Bob's sake.

4) I'm a "biker" and I generally like my fellow riders, but loud Harleys are really starting to get to me. Loud pipes don't save lives, and, again, they're just self-indulgent. No one thinks you're a rebel, grey goatee man, and no one thinks your bike is cool when you're splitting eardrums with your straight pipes.

5) Worse than him is full-fairing-guy-with-a-radio. Jesus. A bike is about being out in the elements, enjoying the visceral thrill of the ride. If you can't ride without your Kraco tinnily spitting out your Meatloaf soudtrack (impossible for you to hear, I'm guessing), just get a Chevy and be done with it.

6) No one's cell call is more important than the people directly in front of them. If it is, remove yourself from the people. Most people who insist they need to be able to be reached 24/7 have the most mundane jobs imaginable. They're slaves, and they don't realize it. You recognize that when the company has you answering emails from your house at night and answering calls when you're out in restaurants, you're just confirming you're a nothing, a cog in their machine?

7) How can anyone have a ring-tone and not be mortally embarrassed? I cannot imagine proudly rooting for my maximum volume phone which is spitting out "Baba O'Reilly" or whatever.

Like many other people, I have a phone. No one but my wife knows the number, and she never calls. I occasionally use it if I can get a business call out of the way while waiting for a ferry.

I don't even mind polite users of radios, cell phones, or the like. But 9 out of ten people either completely forget whatever manners they had when they use such things or feel that their "look at me" act has people really impressed.
posted by maxwelton at 7:17 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


So I work in an ass-kissing specialty grocery store. Part of a chain. Customers here bumble through aisles and do ludricrously self-centered stuff all the time, so it's no surprise that they go through their entire shopping trips glued to their damned phones.

The other day, a woman was pushing a cart with her daughter in the basket portion. The girl was about six or seven, so she maybe couldn't fit in the part with the legholes. The woman was utterly swept up in her phone call, and was pushing the cart one-handed. Suddenly, as she was going around a corner, the cart flipped over, and the little girl went flying into a display of candy. Much crying and screaming followed, but the girl wasn't hurt too badly.

The mother flipped the cart herself, accidentally, because of her one-handed method, and because her attention was on her phone call -- instead of on her daughter, who was too big to ride in a shopping cart, and was shifting around the basket. The second the girl had stopped crying, the woman resumed her call. The second. I wonder if she even disconnected, or if she just told the person to hold on for a second.
posted by Coatlicue at 7:18 PM on November 4, 2007


FTA: He tells patients that if they are expecting an emergency call, they should give out the front desk’s number.

Um, aren't most emergencies unexpected by nature?

"It's ok, eating disorder doctor, I'm not expecting my husband to call me to tell me that the baby is on fire until sometime in the early evening. Carry on!"
posted by dr_dank at 7:24 PM on November 4, 2007


I caught a bus between cities - got on at 11.30pm, next stop 3am, all the lights off. Everyone on the bus went to sleep, except me and the fucking asshole next to me, who rang his friend and spent the next few hours describing his goddamn holiday. When his friend finally decided to hang up, the bastard rang someone else and repeated the whole thing. And yes, I had asked him to stop talking.
posted by jacalata at 7:39 PM on November 4, 2007


Christ, what an asshole ! Unless they are screaming on top of their lungs, why should one shut up anybody on their cellphone or whatever instrument ?

That's the same as complaining about harmless distasteful radio content..just change channel and don't listen to it ! I'd just use the jammer if the person really
refuses to lower the volume or keeps on harrassing waaay to much.

On a tangent: why bother with silencing, if and when you can outwit or talk a person out of their own babbling ?
posted by elpapacito at 7:44 PM on November 4, 2007


I wonder how much of this is generational. There seems to be a lot of "Don't jam me, bro!" in this thread.
posted by trondant at 8:02 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is an issue we're only just starting to come to grips with. Ladyada's DIY jammer mentioned above can be tuned to jam bluetooth, WiFi, GPS or any other range of frequencies. As our bodies become more networked, EM pollution is going to become a much bigger problem, both technically & socially. We're going to need a whole new definition of public vs private that's much more fluid and context-dependent than we have now.
posted by scalefree at 8:08 PM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


There's been an entire generation raised that hasn't known a time where cell phones simply did not exist. They're having children, and those children are growing up in an environment where landlines don't exist, and neither do the behaviours associated with being restricted to landline calls.

You didn't receive emergency calls in your doctor's office or at the movie theatre, because that simply wasn't really possible. Yet somehow we almost all survived, and our parents all more or less successfully raised us.

Cells piss me off, too. I think it's horrendous to receive a phone call from someone in the freakin' toilet stall. Somehow, this next generation doesn't even think twice about it.

Maybe they're having a better experience because of it.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:09 PM on November 4, 2007


This guy is my new hero.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:18 PM on November 4, 2007


“First, the folks we might consider most insensitive and rude may very well be in desperate need of attention. Really - why else make those calls and have those conversations unless you desperately need to be paid attention.”

This comment is one of several in this thread that indicate some hostility against cellphone users on the basis of armchair psychoanalysis.

This seems to me to be extremely presumptuous and offensive. Other people might say the same about you if you use instant messaging or email. Or for just having a telephone at all.

Don't confuse legitimate cellphone complaints—such as people who use their phones in the movie theater, or people who talk too loudly, or people who answer their phones at inappropriate times—with complaints against cellphone users because “they are wedded to their phones” and such.

I say this as a very infrequent cellphone user.

“This guy is my new hero.”

Well, he's a chickenshit coward. Unless he tells people that he's jamming their phones.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:57 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


ohh...cell phone jammers are the pop-up blockers of RL.

All the world needs now:

- Automated turn signal actuators
- Remote car stereo de-bassifiers
- Helicopter parent de-rotonators
- Screaming baby de-theaternators


And sanity will return to this fair earth...
posted by samsara at 9:01 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm with flarbuse, my phone stays in my pocket and on vibrate, and the chances are good I won't answer it anyway.

I like being able to call anyone anywhere at anytime. I hate that others may do the same to me.

And I've found that staring fixedly at people on cellphones and then suddenly baring my teeth in a feral snarl gets them off the phone, or at least, makes them retreat to a tolerable distance.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:03 PM on November 4, 2007


Woah EB. I think you misinterpreted my scope.

I am making a behavioral claim based on observation: lots of people own cel phones but not all of them behave in this public-spectacle way. Thus, the ones who do have some reason (read: reinforced behavior) to behave that way. I'm not willing to broadly grant "they don't know any better" because, when confronted (if any of these anecdotes holds) they are not surprised but rather affronted.

If I were making a value judgment, it would read like this: "Anyone who talks on a cel phone clearly isn't worth knowing; everyone I like would rather meet face to face and have a long discussion over liquorice."

For all I know I have been both the loud-talker and the annoyed-forced-listener. I'm sure I had my rationalizations of why each one was just ducky at the time.
posted by abulafa at 9:09 PM on November 4, 2007


“I am making a behavioral claim based on observation: lots of people own cel phones but not all of them behave in this public-spectacle way. Thus, the ones who do have some reason (read: reinforced behavior) to behave that way.”

Oh, okay. I don't follow your reasoning, though, that the public spectacle is because they need to feel connected. I'd think that the public spectacle might be because they need to project an image of themselves as being very connected and, perhaps, socially successful.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:16 PM on November 4, 2007


So you're comfortable with armchair psychoanalysis, just not hostility based on it? :)

Any of these are good reasons (reinforcers of the behavior). I've known 20-somethings who consider it a matter of course that their closest friends want the play-by-play and I've known demonstrably self-obsessed sales folks who fit closer to the characterization you offer. I don't think either would own up to the motivations we're supposing, but that doesn't mean those motivations aren't there and very real. Ultimately, those motivations can be entirely situational as well.

As I meander through my argument, I guess I'm saying that many of us (before a chorus of "not I" erupts, not all) have done this very thing and may not have realized it at all. Even a loud conversation with friends with no cel phone involved can have the same effect, motivations, and outcome.

The upshot: something about throwing cel phones in glass houses and the social tools at hand being more effective in both long and short term than a technological smokebomb.
posted by abulafa at 9:41 PM on November 4, 2007


The difference between talking on the cellphone and a normal conversation is that now the noise is everywhere.

Yeah, before, I had to deal with people talking, but that wasn't so often. Most people in say, the coffee shop, were alone. Maybe there was one or two conversations.

Now, half or more of those same people will be yammering away. Even if they are being polite and not screaming on the phone, it adds up to being a lot of noise. And it sucks.

Every where is so goddamned loud now.
posted by spaltavian at 10:59 PM on November 4, 2007


Damn, Y'all are fucking OLD.
posted by afu at 11:17 PM on November 4, 2007


I'd think that the public spectacle might be because they need to project an image of themselves as being very connected and, perhaps, socially successful.

In the eighties, when only hugely successful people could afford them, this may have been true. Today though, when every chav teenager and his pal has the latest blinged up Nokia, I think the opposite is true. Very few of the tiny number of *really* high status people that I know use them. They have other people who do that for them.

Damn, Y'all are fucking OLD.

QED.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:14 AM on November 5, 2007


However, when other people are not considerate, I'm not deeply offended. People are people, sometimes they're annoying, and if you can't deal with it then go live in a cave.

So if I'm not considerate in my cell phone jammer usage, you won't be deeply offended? After all, people are people, sometimes they're annoying, and if you can't deal with me you can go live in a cave.
posted by davejay at 12:47 AM on November 5, 2007


Now I'm just mystified. I'm sure it's an Asian thing[*] or something, but here's a question: why is it rude to speak loudly on the phone when you're in a bus or in the metro? Public transport is as get common as it gets; wouldn't everyone have the same right (or lack of it thereof) to privacy? I can see why people would be annoyed by loud talk, but why is it rude?

I, of course, say this as someone who prefers doing French grammar or listening to rock while commuting. We have a bigger irritant in buses in Singapore; it's called TV Mobile. Sadly, that's one signal that can't be jammed.

--
[*] - On second thoughts, perhaps not. But at least we have tai chi!
posted by the cydonian at 1:34 AM on November 5, 2007


So if I'm not considerate in my cell phone jammer usage, you won't be deeply offended? After all, people are people, sometimes they're annoying, and if you can't deal with me you can go live in a cave.

Well if you for instance jammed my phone at home I would be quite annoyed since I don't have a land line (stationary phone is more expensive than cell here).

There would be quite a lot of counter-jamming peoples heads down toilets if this caught on over here.
posted by uandt at 2:30 AM on November 5, 2007


How Darth does the jamming thing.
posted by nickyskye at 3:28 AM on November 5, 2007


noise pollution is not a right.
posted by canned polar bear at 4:18 AM on November 5, 2007


And who decides what is noise pollution? The random guy with the illegal jammer? No thanks.
posted by the other side at 4:40 AM on November 5, 2007


How Larry David does.
posted by BackwardsCity at 4:44 AM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


And who decides what is noise pollution? The random guy with the illegal jammer?

yes, the people who are annoyed decide what is noise pollution. it's subjective in some cases.
posted by canned polar bear at 4:46 AM on November 5, 2007


I sometimes find two-person conversations on the train or bus annoying, too, but I think mobes really are more annoying. One important reason is the start and stop involved in only having one end of the conversation. This keeps grabbing your attention again, whether you like it or not, whereas a continuous conversation can fade into the background.

It's approximately the difference between having a light on, which might be annoying in some cases, and having someone constantly switching the light on and off, which is maddening.
posted by Phanx at 5:03 AM on November 5, 2007


All I'm saying is that hell, I get annoyed by people all the time, but taking it upon yourself to passive-aggressively fuck with people based solely on who annoys you (she said "like" too many times? come on...), not to mention anyone else in a 30-foot radius who may happen to be using their technology in a perfectly considerate/"acceptable" way. It's no better behavior than the loudmouths.
posted by the other side at 5:05 AM on November 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Whenever my wife and I are driving somewhere, and we see really poor driving, the owner of the other car is invariably on the phone. I would like to jam those people. And if talking on a cell while driving is illegal, what's the downside? It would make me very happy.
posted by craniac at 5:37 AM on November 5, 2007


yes, the people who are annoyed decide what is noise pollution. it's subjective in some cases.

your subjective annoyance is not a right.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 6:15 AM on November 5, 2007


and won't someone please get to work on a pistol that, when pointed at a car, will set the radio on fire?

Start here.
posted by MikeMc at 6:39 AM on November 5, 2007


You can't, like, own the air, man.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:58 AM on November 5, 2007


your subjective annoyance is not a right.

actually it is.
posted by canned polar bear at 7:03 AM on November 5, 2007


And who decides what is noise pollution? The random guy with the illegal jammer?

yes, the people who are annoyed decide what is noise pollution.


Actually, since you're talking about rights, then it would be legislators or local authorities who decide (or have decided through laws or ordinances) what is or isn't noise pollution. Just because some yahoo decides that someone doesn't have a "right" to what they have subjectively defined as "noise pollution" doesn't make it so.
posted by the other side at 7:46 AM on November 5, 2007


That "clean the cum up off her two-year old" bit was way out of line, flarbuse. Seeing a two-year old dressed inappropriately is nowhere near as offensive as reading about the sexual abuse she suffers in your imagination. That's a mighty big, well-marked line to cross for the sake of rhetorical punch, and it undermines anything else you have to say in the thread.
posted by breezeway at 7:46 AM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


“That "clean the cum up off her two-year old" bit was way out of line, flarbuse. Seeing a two-year old dressed inappropriately is nowhere near as offensive as reading about the sexual abuse she suffers in your imagination. That's a mighty big, well-marked line to cross for the sake of rhetorical punch, and it undermines anything else you have to say in the thread.”

Yep. And it's just plain creepy that someone would think that a short skirt on a two-year-old makes a two-year-old look “whorish”.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:12 AM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


"your subjective annoyance is not a right."

actually it is.


Yes. Your ability to interfere with the rights of others based on said annoyance is not a right, however.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:19 AM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


You will never see a cell phone/pager jammer legally marketed or in use in any public space legally because doctors and medical professionals frequently need to be reachable (as required by their jobs) during hours when they are not necessarily working, even when they're doing things like watching a movie or eating in a restaurant in the same space as you.

What did these people do before cell phones? And did the world end?
posted by wfc123 at 8:23 AM on November 5, 2007


Yep. And it's just plain creepy that someone would think that a short skirt on a two-year-old makes a two-year-old look “whorish”.

Welcome to the American sexual psyche circa 2007. I expect the age of consent will be 30 and keeping one's nightshirt on while doin' it will be the norm by the time I die. You know, to protect those tiny lovely whores the children.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:28 AM on November 5, 2007


Rude people will find ways to be rude, with or without cell phones. Part of being an adult in a public space is learning to deal with rudeness in a mature, helpful way. Jamming cell phone signals is itself rude and childish.
posted by Kwine at 8:31 AM on November 5, 2007


Yes. Your ability to interfere with the rights of others based on said annoyance is not a right, however.

i don't disagree with that but it seems that some cellphone users think they're entitled to annoy other people with their loud volume conversations. if i blow smoke into a non-smoker's face i fully expect to have a seriously pissed off person on my hands. sure, smoking, cancer blahblahblah but both are making the environment less pleasant for the other people who have to share it.

if a restaurant, movie theater, bus etc. can be made more pleasant for the majority then i'm all for it. hell, let the addicted cellphone users come outside with us smokers when they feel the need.
posted by canned polar bear at 8:39 AM on November 5, 2007


A couple weeks ago, I told a woman on the train, to some applause, to shut the hell up on her cellphone.

The fact she was talking about her MENSTRUATION at a level that I could hear her through my iPod turned up to ow ow ow fuck ow was what drove me to do it.

The full comment was, and I quote: "Lady, either shut the hell up and hang the hell up or I'm going to puke on you. No one needs to hear about what you're talking about that loudly!"
posted by mephron at 9:09 AM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yep. And it's just plain creepy that someone would think that a short skirt on a two-year-old makes a two-year-old look “whorish”.

Maybe the cleaners put too much starch in his clown suit that week?
posted by psmealey at 9:15 AM on November 5, 2007


Not enough distinction is being made here between the true assholes and the unintentionally rude. The sense of entitlement that leads one to believe that they can use their phone anytime, anywhere is the same reason that they are not going to heed reasonable requests to shut the fuck up. I am against jamming for several reasons, but it may be an acceptable solution where confrontation is not a good idea. For a few years now when someone in a theater refuses to turn off their ringing phone or carries on a conversation, I will speak up. On a couple of occasions this has escalated to a physical confrontation. I am not an Internet tough guy, I do not want to get into a fight because I know I will not win. I don't want to challenge their masculinity in front of their girlfriend, I don't want a fight, I do not hate phones. I just want to watch a god damned movie without fucking bleeping and blooping and Jay-Z on a tinny speaker and "watching a movie, how about you."

What is really needed is for manufacturers to step up to the plate and start making phones that can respond to wireless requests to switch to vibrate mode, so that restaurants and theaters can reasonably control this without actually disable anyone's phone. It won't stop the assholes, but in reality I don't think these are the majority. I admit I haven't thought this through entirely.
posted by erikharmon at 9:34 AM on November 5, 2007


I don't see how a cellphone conversation is any different or more intrusive than 2 people sitting there talking

Volume.

Personally I see nothing wrong with sitting there having a conversation with someone on the phone in any place where conversation is acceptable, except that more than 50% of the population speaks louder when using the phone.

I try to smile and say "we're using our inside voices now," but I'm the kind of ass who says "what did mommy tell you to say?" when clerks don't say please to me.
posted by phearlez at 9:36 AM on November 5, 2007


ZachsMind writes "If someone were able to commercially sell a legal cellphone jammer, I'd buy it in a New York minute. I'd be the first in line. I'd carry it with me and I'd have it on twenty-four / seven, and people would have to ask my permission if they could use their cellphone in my presence, and I would then say no."

So screw that guy texting one train car over. Or the guy carpooling in the next lane. And screw all those people waiting for the bus every time a jammer loaded bus pulls up. While were at it let's fuck with every residence along the route without land lines; they probably didn't need to use their phones anyways. And all those people living/working downtown; they don't need cell service while downtown. And heck lets chase cops doing followup work back to their offices instead of sitting in their crusiers and being a presence in their communities. And why would street vendors ever need to make a call while working; we'll all be better off if they were forced to use pay phones instead. And heck let's just encourage people to volunteer for stuff like fire departments by requiring them to be tied to a land line all the time. And heck people hate paying for pizza at the door with debit so let's just disable that supposed benifit.

Ya legal cell phone jamming would be great. There is hardly any collateral damage inflicted on others at all. I can see why so many people are supportive of this fricken' vigilantism to suppress a few people talking too loud.

Bookhouse writes "They're also well-paid professionals who can skips public movies when they are on call. They should take one for the team so when they aren't on call, they aren't interrupted by jackasses jib-jabbering."

Must be nice to live in a nice big metropolis where every essential service has coverage 4 people deep. Rather than someplace where their might only be one obstritician or two ER docs or one cop or one translator or a couple power technitions or one water engineer or a half dozen volunteer fire fighters. It'll be a lot easier to keep and attract people to those locations when they are told they can't ever go to the movies.

deadmessenger writes "It's hard to prove that jamming was going on, but that was pretty damned suspicious, and a monumental pain in the ass for business travelers such as myself. The FCC and cell carriers need to cloud up and rain on morons like that, ASAP."

Call the FCC. They are usually quite willing to come out and listen for jamming on these frequencies.

Reggie Digest writes "Not to mention, cell phone jammers ARE TECHNOLOGY."

The original Luddites probably leveraged technology too rather than relying on their bare hands to destroy sewing equipment.

nickyskye writes "People talking together speak in a different tone of voice than on the phone, the volume is definitely louder on the phone and on the phone it's often inappropriately out of touch with the environment. "

Or it's selective reinforcement because you only notice the people talking louder and with a different tone of voice.

So sure let's make jammers legal; but in exchange for owning one you need to agree to installation of a device that cuts the power to your home in a quasi random manner. The duration of outages would be linked to the duration of your jammer use. Also there would be a big glowing blue button in front of your house with a sign saying "push this button to cut my power". And quasi random so that the more important power is at any point in time the more likely the power would be cut. For example if you're a football fan, during the last five minutes of the superbowl/world cup the likely hood of losing power approaches 1. And don't even think about the possibility of power if you have a job interview or wedding to get to.

Though I've got to admit the guys who invented ring tones, especially those of cliche music, should be taken out behind the barn.
posted by Mitheral at 9:41 AM on November 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Instead of outright blocking, I wonder whether restaurants, libraries , theaters, concert halls, etc. could get away with discouraging cell phone use by broadcasting advertisements and public service announcements on cell frequencies at low power levels within their own confines. (I recognize that the digital nature of cell phone signals would make this difficult, but I don't know enough to say whether I think it would be impossible.)

You could still make your calls, including, crucially, emergency calls, but you'd have to endure speaking over a voice which was intoning the list of coming attractions and reminding both parties to the conversation that cell phone use generally interferes with other patron's enjoyment of the experience.

A Faraday cage is a great idea, but it would minimally require a completely connected mesh of conducting material with very few openings greater than a foot in diameter for 800-900Mhz phones, and roughly a third of a foot for newer 2200Mhz phones.
posted by jamjam at 9:50 AM on November 5, 2007


wfc123 writes "What did these people do before cell phones? And did the world end?"

Pagers.

Ethereal Bligh writes "And it's just plain creepy that someone would think that a short skirt on a two-year-old makes a two-year-old look “whorish”."

I imagine their heads asplode everytime they contemplate cultures where the enviroment allows for small children to be naked much of the time.

canned polar bear writes "hell, let the addicted cellphone users come outside with us smokers when they feel the need."

You realize that cell phones are duplex devices right. Anyone who was an adult remembers that you could quite often make calls out (pay phones we're everywhere) but the great utility of cell phones was people could reach you. Lots of people used to carry pagers to make up the gap.

phearlez writes "except that more than 50% of the population speaks louder when using the phone."

Cite?
posted by Mitheral at 9:56 AM on November 5, 2007


Now I'm just mystified. I'm sure it's an Asian thing[*] or something, but here's a question: why is it rude to speak loudly on the phone

For one thing, it often causes me physical pain. This tends to the case with high-pitched voices.
posted by spaltavian at 9:57 AM on November 5, 2007


One important reason is the start and stop involved in only having one end of the conversation. This keeps grabbing your attention again, whether you like it or not, whereas a continuous conversation can fade into the background.

It's amazing how long it took for someone to articulate this accurately, given that this subject is one of the links in the post. It's been studied, and this is true - it's the real answer to all the "why is it any different than a real conversation, neener neener" people.
posted by agregoli at 10:03 AM on November 5, 2007


The guy in the article sounds like dick, what with this sneering over her Valley Girl talk. Because I'm sure he sounds like a Harvard professor during his casual conversations, right? That said, the endless too-loud conversations make me cranky. People, have some fucking class and keep your private conversations private. This Is Not Your Living Room.

I'm sure that using the jammer was satisfying and all, but I don't trust that citizens wielding jammers are going to be any more considerate than citizens wielding cellphones.

Sometimes I'll ask a cell-phone-jabberer to please keep their voice down a bit, but the worst offenders are also typically incredibly defensive, no matter how nicely some consideration is requested. It's wearying to have to be prepared for a fight over a simple request. Weirdly, the same people who'll put up their dukes over their god-given right to gossip on the phone are perfectly sane about physical personal space.
posted by desuetude at 10:20 AM on November 5, 2007


A good way of handling the people getting annoyed by your cell phone yabbering is to look crazy and claim you are talking to yourself. Usually shuts them up.
posted by uandt at 10:56 AM on November 5, 2007


You realize that cell phones are duplex devices right. Anyone who was an adult remembers that you could quite often make calls out (pay phones we're everywhere) but the great utility of cell phones was people could reach you. Lots of people used to carry pagers to make up the gap.

wait... you're telling me i can use my phone to make calls now?!? ;). indeed i do realise this, however i'm starting to wonder if it wouldn't be possible to make a selective jammer. are voice and data on the same frequencies? I think that would be ideal if voice could be locked out but texting and data still allowed so somebody can still get a notification in these life and death situations which seem to arise frequently.

i think it's perfectly reasonable that if for example a movie theater wanted to use a jammer they should be allowed to as long as it's clearly marked that mobile calls will be blocked. it's a private business so they should be allowed to do what they want.
posted by canned polar bear at 11:05 AM on November 5, 2007


You said: There's only one thing worse than being rude in public, and that's being passive aggressive in public.

And then I said: Yes, those are much worse than murder.

And then you responded with a clever comment about how completely obtuse it is when people fail to recognize an idiomatic phrase used in the context of the conversation at hand.

And then I rolled my eyes at you. 'Twas just a bit of irony, Mr. Fleetwood.

posted by Reggie Digest at 11:20 AM on November 5, 2007


What did these people do before cell phones? And did the world end?

Yeah! And antibiotics, too! What did people do before we had antibiotics, huh? Did the world end?

Whenever my wife and I are driving somewhere, and we see really poor driving, the owner of the other car is invariably on the phone.

Personally, I see plenty of poor driving from people who aren't on phones.

I would like to jam those people. And if talking on a cell while driving is illegal, what's the downside?

The fact that using a cell phone while a passenger in a car is not illegal?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:05 PM on November 5, 2007


What did people do before we had antibiotics, huh?

See here and here.
posted by TedW at 1:28 PM on November 5, 2007


Yeah! And antibiotics, too! What did people do before we had antibiotics, huh? Did the world end?

Oh lord. That's a bit much.

There aren't many (if any) people on this thread advocating the banning of all cell phones. Like antibiotics, cell phones can save lives. And like antibiotics, cell phones can be misused.
posted by Evangeline at 1:29 PM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


the cydonian: I can see why people would be annoyed by loud talk, but why is it rude?

I thought that unnecessarily or deliberately doing something that annoys someone else was pretty much the definition of rudeness.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:48 PM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Personally, I see plenty of poor driving from people who aren't on phones.

Hell, yes, don't tell me what "studies say," I drive around all the time on the phone telling everybody I know about the poor driving I see from the ten-two grannies in this town. I told the police I outdrive all these landliners every day even drunk, on the phone and smoking a cigarette, but the police couldn't seem to understand my point and that's why I'm blackberrying this post with my face, my hands behind my back in shackles. Goddamn luddites.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:58 PM on November 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


“I thought that unnecessarily or deliberately doing something that annoys someone else was pretty much the definition of rudeness.”

I know fuck-all about Asian cultures, but what I dimly think that I might know is that their notion of rudeness is built around etiquette—that is, a legalistic view where proper and improper behavior is explicitly described. Ours is more informal and dependent upon the sorts of judgments you're making. So, in the culture of the person to whom you replied, perhaps if it's a behavior not defined explicitly prohibited, then asking what the two things have to do with each other makes sense.

Or not. I'm just guessing.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:10 PM on November 5, 2007


In our culture when everybody starts staring at you and shaking their heads and going, "Tsk!" then you know you're being rude. But when you're AFU and in an alternate reality--for instance when you're plowed drunk or immersed in a phone conversation--you don't pick up on these subtle social cues and you tend to do things you wouldn't do normally. Like stand stock still in the middle of the sidewalk. Or drive seven miles per hour in a 45 MPH zone. You are not aware that you're behaving like a clown, so later when you self-report about how skilled you are at maneuvering when drunk or how politely you manage your cel conversations, you can't really trust what you're saying. Maybe the solution isn't jammers installed in every stop sign and breathalyzers in every car, maybe it's something like 20 years to life for every traffic offense in which a cel phone or a blood alcohol level was a factor. Rude dumbassness on the bus, whatever, but you celphoners drive like you're hopped up on the ludes. If I get killed I am going to be so pissed off.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:24 PM on November 5, 2007


Well you won't be getting pissed of at me, Don Pepino, because I drive like a saint while I'm on my cell phone, drunk off my ass on pepermint schnapps, and rolling a huge blunt while changing CDs.
posted by baphomet at 3:39 PM on November 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm nigh-upon astonished that people seem to think that among their unalienable rights is yammering like a twat on a telephone. I'd install jammers on city buses not to suppress the conversations going on inside the bus--I'd expect riders who were annoyed to say something--but those outside, as the bus passes, just to disabuse the Mightily Entitled of the notion that they can talk as loud as they like, as long as they like, wherever they like and anybody who thinks different is worthy of being called a Luddite.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:50 PM on November 5, 2007


Now -- waddabout those annoying flat-screen T.V.'s in restaurants that aren't even sports bars?
posted by ericb at 5:53 PM on November 5, 2007


You may be right, EB. I didn't mean my remark as a put-down (although, in retrospect, I guess it could be read that way), I'm actually curious as to what the Cydonian was getting at. I wouldn't be surprised if etiquette is very different in Asian cultures, particularly those on Mars, which must have diverged from their terrestrial antecedents a long time ago. :-)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:27 PM on November 5, 2007


I'm going to have to look at installing one of these on my motorcycle. The only drawback is the fuckwits who pay more attention to their phone than the road will not pay any attention to the road when their precious phone dies out.

Just because you can talk anywhere doesn't mean you should talk anywhere. A cell phone is a mobile phone, not a public phone. Find a private place to conduct your call or do it when you get home.
posted by Eideteker at 11:07 PM on November 5, 2007


I'm going to have to look at installing one of these on my motorcycle.

Oooh, I likee. That's better than sparkplug tips.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:09 AM on November 6, 2007


Actually, I'm just struck by two things. First, is about expecting buses and trains to be quiet, or even private, places. While I can see why people might be bothered by others talking loudly in closed spaces such as cinemas, I honestly don't see why it is rude to speak loudly in a bus or MRT or somewhere else. I'm sure it's just me, but I actually expect people to make noise and be loud; that's what people do when they gather together.

Noise, random conversations and chance encounters are what add colour to your life; why would you want to deny yourself that experience? Why, indeed, would you want your commute to be quiet, sedate and sterile?

(I suppose that's the only place where culture really kicks in; I expect travel to be noisy, whether it is to due to the traffic or televisions or lots of people milling together. You folks don't seem to think so.)

EB reads me... well, almost. Here's what I'm getting at:- If I didn't intend to bother you, in fact if I dont intend talking to you at all, how can I be rude to you? I could be ill-mannered yes, uncouth may be, but if we haven't any level of conversation, and you haven't told me that you are bothered, how can I be rude? Don't you need a certain amount of deliberate, directed ill-will to be rude?
I'm actually curious as to what the Cydonian was getting at. I wouldn't be surprised if etiquette is very different in Asian cultures, particularly those on Mars, which must have diverged from their terrestrial antecedents a long time ago.
Oh, the time-lag is hell. Especially for those inter-planetary calls. You speak into the speakerphone once and then wait for another twenty minutes before you get a reply. Heard things were slightly better in the northern plateaus, but I'm sure that's a placebo effect, mostly because the average temperatures there approach terrestrial levels.

In fact, you can always make out the new arrivals when you're in an inter-TerraBubble-transfer; they often shout into their communication pods expecting an immediate reply. But of course, they won't get it; we still haven't cracked the speed of light. Invariably, they think it's because of a bad line and end up shouting into their speech-pods. You'd think people would have read all those big Snicker Telecom notices, but no.
Just because you can talk anywhere doesn't mean you should talk anywhere. A cell phone is a mobile phone, not a public phone. Find a private place to conduct your call or do it when you get home.
I don't understand this line of thinking either. Again, I'm sure it's just me, but I find making calls when I'm home a dreadful waste of my time; there are so many more things you can do at home. If I want to have a twenty-minute chat with my friend in Ougadougou, and if my commute is exactly twenty-minutes, etiquette concerns aside, wouldn't it make sense to make that call while I'm commuting?
posted by the cydonian at 2:27 AM on November 6, 2007


If I want to have a twenty-minute chat with my friend in Ougadougou, and if my commute is exactly twenty-minutes, etiquette concerns aside, wouldn't it make sense to make that call while I'm commuting?

Personally I feel uncomfortable having personal conversations when other people are very close by, listening. So even if it weren't considered rude, I probably still wouldn't want to do it.
posted by grouse at 2:30 AM on November 6, 2007


“If I didn't intend to bother you, in fact if I dont intend talking to you at all, how can I be rude to you? I could be ill-mannered yes, uncouth may be, but if we haven't any level of conversation, and you haven't told me that you are bothered, how can I be rude? Don't you need a certain amount of deliberate, directed ill-will to be rude?”

That's a very specific definition of rude that I'm not familiar with. My understanding of rudeness is that it's willfully careless about other people's sensitivities in the context of social conventions.

So it's not just anything at all which bothers someone and seems egregiously careless on the part of the botherer; but it also has to be violating some sort of social norm in some way.

But I've never heard that it has to be intentional (in that it is intended to annoy) nor that it has to be intended to annoy someone specifically. I'd be interested to see if you could find dictionary support or someone else to agree with you about this distinction.

Anyway, basically, rudeness is when someone does something that annoys the person or persons around them when they are expected to “know better”.

True, in its roots, rude just means unfinished, or rough—which doesn't imply annoyance or social convention or willful disregard of these things. But I think common usage is that someone is careless of annoying other people in ways that they can be expected to be aware of and to have known what better behavior is expected of them.

What happens, though, as we can see in this thread, is that people tend to project their own idiosyncratic annoyances onto some ill-defined idea that this is normative for all people. So some people are suggesting that there's something rude about using a cellphone at all in a public place—a suggestion I cannot see any support for.

However, I think there's general agreement that there's some audible level of conversation during cellphone use above which is “loud” and thus unnecessarily annoying to others. People will have different ideas, though, of where that threshold is.

On the issue of interrupting in-person conversations to take a cellphone call, there seems to be a broad divergence of opinion. Personally, I think that this practice is socially untenable and an artifact of how recent it is that there is constant availability of phone access. When phones aren't used that much and only available in the home or workplace, then it makes sense to put answering phone calls ahead of other things. But when the phone is available everywhere, all the time, and people are constantly reachable via their phones, it does not make sense to prioritize phone calls over in-person interactions because the situation has reversed: in-person interactions are more rare than the phone calls. I hope that people will slowly learn to ignore their phones in inappropriate answering situations, but I'm not sure that will happen. People still madly put everything in their homes on “hold” in order to answer phone calls.

It seems to me that even if there's some psychological reason why people have lowered tolerance for a cell conversation than a real, live two-person conversation where both are at the same conversational level, it still shouldn't mean that people shouldn't be allowed to have cell phone conversations in public. The utility of having such conversations is too high to give up and the live two-person conversation too similar to ignore it as a precedent. One of two things will probably happen, then. The first is that people just acclimatize to these cell conversations and somehow learn to ignore or otherwise not be annoyed by them. Alternatively, people will learn to converse more quietly on their cellphones and perhaps technology will make this more possible.

If cell jamming becomes more popular, the phones themselves and the networks could be utilized to combat it. Losing the signal because of jamming will have a particular signature, the phones and networks could track where and when it happens, making it easy to send someone to an area/situation of repeat offense to track down the offender. Given all the traffic that goes through these networks and how much most people have invested in their availability, I suspect that as soon as this becomes even moderately popular, the government will come down on violators like a thousand pound bag of sand from the clear-blue sky.

And, again, I think it's a pretty chickenshit way to deal with the problem. It affects people that aren't being rude, and it does so from hiding, without consequences. I think it says something very uncomplimentary about a person if they are eager to actually use one of these in the real world (and not just talk about it). Assuming they'll use it without revealing that they're using it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:43 AM on November 6, 2007


I'm sure it's just me, but I actually expect people to make noise and be loud; that's what people do when they gather together. Noise, random conversations and chance encounters are what add colour to your life; why would you want to deny yourself that experience? Why, indeed, would you want your commute to be quiet, sedate and sterile?

Over the years, I've noticed are odd limits to empathy. There are times when well-meaning, intelligent people just can't seem to stand in each other's shoes. And the oddest thing is, these limits tend to be based around relatively trivial aspects of life.

For instance, even though I'm an atheist, I think I'd be more likely to have a calm, reasoned conversation with a fundamentalist about religion than I would about bed time with someone who has different sleep patterns than me.

When I was in college, my roommate -- a really nice, smart guy -- was continually waking me up in the middle of the night. Sometimes he did this by forgetting that I was a light sleeper and being too loud in the room after I'd gone to bed. Other times, he'd purposefully wake me up to tell me something. Whenever I complained, he said, "What's the big deal? Just go back to sleep."

I tried to explain to him that this was impossible for me. That once I woke up, it took me hours to get back to sleep. He simply didn't believe me. He was the sort of guy who could sleep anywhere. He could sleep at a rock concert. And my way of sleeping was so alien to him, he just couldn't see it as real. I don't think he thought I was lying. He thought I was weak-willed. If I just TRIED a little harder, I'd get to sleep.

Now, twenty years later, I'm going through a similar interaction with my boss. He THRIVES on noise. It's actually kind of cool to watch how he comes to life in a bustling, noisy environment. He shouts on the phone; he cracks jokes; he paces around. He gets creeped out if the office gets too quiet. I wish I could be more like him.

But I was never the kid who did his homework in front of the TV. I did it in total silence, in my room, with the door closed. And I'm still that way. If there's too much noise, I simply can't concentrate. I can't get my work done. In fact, if there's too much noise, I can't even think. THIS is the problem I have on the bus or train. I'm not at work, but I still need to be able to think my own thoughts. But the loud noises get inside my head and echo and echo and echo. Soon, I can't concentrate on anything except the noise. And then it starts to hurt.

That's not hyperbole or a metaphor. At a certain point, persistent loud noise HURTS me. It feels like a little person is living in my skull, hacking away at my brain with a dagger.

I don't think this gives me rights to special treatment. I share this world with other people, including loud ones. But I do think that -- since people have differing levels of noise tolerance -- we all owe it to each other to be aware and as courteous as we can be.
posted by grumblebee at 7:01 AM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: A little person living in your skull, hacking away at your brain.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:46 AM on November 6, 2007


That's a very specific definition of rude that I'm not familiar with. My understanding of rudeness is that it's willfully careless about other people's sensitivities in the context of social conventions... I'd be interested to see if you could find dictionary support or someone else to agree with you about this distinction.
I was about to brush our disagreement off as mere semantics, but then I read this:
Anyway, basically, rudeness is when someone does something that annoys the person or persons around them when they are expected to “know better”.
I suppose there are shades of that Ask versus Guess cultures distinction we were reading here in Jan. :-) Just to take that thesis a bit forward, I suppose I was coming from an Ask POV; if nobody says they're bothered, then they aren't, and hence, what you were doing wasn't rude. You seem to be coming from a Guess Point-of-View; you seem to be saying that it's more polite to guess if others would be inconvenienced and then change our actions accordingly.

I still am not sure why anybody would want to second-guess a group of strangers about whom you know nothing, but at least I understand what is happening. :-)
On the issue of interrupting in-person conversations to take a cellphone call, there seems to be a broad divergence of opinion. Personally, I think that this practice is socially untenable and an artifact of how recent it is that there is constant availability of phone access.
Oh, I'm rather irritated by this. I think it'll show extremely badly on a person if s/he takes an extended call while they're speaking with someone; I would presume that they aren't interested in the conversation, and are looking at getting out for some reason. Personally, I'd think the polite way would be to answer the phone, quickly say, "I'll call you back!", put the phone down and get back to your earlier conversation. That way, you'll avoid a fate worse than not answering calls, getting calls from someone who won't give up.
But I was never the kid who did his homework in front of the TV. I did it in total silence, in my room, with the door closed.
You know, I was this kid; I was the quietest of the lot, I preferred solitude, silence and no distractions. I then came to university, and decided to study in a really quiet place, the library. I can't tell you how hell-ish that was; my normal thought-processes somehow got side-tracked, I couldn't concentrate on work, and in fact, began dreading that cold, dark, impersonal hellhole.

Turns out that I was apparently used to having constant activity somewhere in the back; to concentrate, for me, was to actively switch that off, and then switch "on" something else. That's never a clean off-and-on thing; there are those small, inscrutable observations that percolate into your sub-conscious awareness. I call that creative inspiration. :-)
posted by the cydonian at 8:04 AM on November 6, 2007


First, is about expecting buses and trains to be quiet, or even private, places. While I can see why people might be bothered by others talking loudly in closed spaces such as cinemas, I honestly don't see why it is rude to speak loudly in a bus or MRT or somewhere else.

As Lewis Black said, "if it weren't for my horse, I never would have spent that year in college."

There's a huge difference between dealing with ambient room, horn and siren, rattling bus or train or miscellaneous city noise than being subjected to someone else's loud conversation. It intrigues and assaults you at once. It basically becomes thought pollution. You end up caring about some person's snippet of life who has nothing to do with you, and who may well be someone you couldn't tolerate under the best of circumstances.

No one is saying not to use your phone. Just if you must, speak in a conversational volume, not AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS? OMIGOD, I CAN'T BELIEVE JANICE SLEPT WITH THAT GUY!!!!

Honestly cell phone reception is vastly improved these days, there's no reason at all to YELL into the phone any more. If they can't hear you speaking quietly, they can't hear you at all.
posted by psmealey at 8:19 AM on November 6, 2007


Personally, I'd think the polite way would be to answer the phone, quickly say, "I'll call you back!", put the phone down and get back to your earlier conversation.

I don't think that's the polite way. You're still interrupting a conversation you're having with a real person right there and making them wait for an electronic device. If your phone is on vibrate then others shouldn't notice if you get a repeated call.
posted by grouse at 8:24 AM on November 6, 2007


One edge case of wide spread jammer ownership I haven't seen come up is whether those who support use of jammers would still support their use during times of reduced infrastructure like Katrina or the recent fires in California.
posted by Mitheral at 9:08 AM on November 6, 2007


I don't understand this line of thinking either. Again, I'm sure it's just me, but I find making calls when I'm home a dreadful waste of my time; there are so many more things you can do at home. If I want to have a twenty-minute chat with my friend in Ougadougou, and if my commute is exactly twenty-minutes, etiquette concerns aside, wouldn't it make sense to make that call while I'm commuting?

It's not just you, but this is exactly what exasperates some of us so much. What you are saying, above, is that the conversation you have with your friend is a waste of time unless you can shoehorn it into a multitasking scenario. We, The Strangers, are expected to accommodate your Very Important Schedule by studiously ignoring your personal conversation.

Added bonus etiquette concern: We're all wincing in sympathy for your friend on the other end of the line, who is trying to hear you through all of the ambient noise of the commute. We've been there.

Ask vs Guess? Good lord, if all of etiquette and basic social behavior depended on constant call-outs, even more people would come to blows on a regular basis. Heads up, Extreme Ask people: Please don't piss on the floor of the bus. Just letting you know, since no-one specifically mentioned that this would bother them today. I know that there's already piss residue on the street and therefore on the bottom of our shoes, and your bus-piss will dry and therefore doesn't even technically need to be cleaned up. I know that lots of things smell on a bus already. Regardless, you've been notified. /not pissist.
posted by desuetude at 9:18 AM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


I call that creative inspiration.

One person's "creative inspiration" is another person's "creative interruption".

Noise, random conversations and chance encounters are what add colour to your life; why would you want to deny yourself that experience? Why, indeed, would you want your commute to be quiet, sedate and sterile?

This is interesting. It seems to me that the people denying themselves the joy of experiencing the "great tapestry" of life are the ones talking on the cell phones. Are they aware of the people around them and all the rich experiences they're missing? Probably not. They're too busy talking on their cellphones.

Is reading "sterile"? Is writing "sterile"? Just as your commute may be your only chance to talk on the phone, it may be the only opportunity others have to write in their journal or read a book. Those aren't things you can usually do during the work day.

I like chance encounters. I like meeting strangers. I like the buzz at parties and hearing children splashing in a pool. These things can be inspiring. Listening to someone yell on a cell phone only inspires people to get angry at people yelling on cell phones.
posted by Evangeline at 9:20 AM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those aren't things you can usually do during the work day.

Sorry - meant to say "can't" usually do.
posted by Evangeline at 9:22 AM on November 6, 2007


In the quiet carriage on Friday there was one woman who repeatedly made calls that consisted of saying 'Call me back'. She had her ringtone on and did not leave the carriage to conduct the calls. She was talking to her family one at a time, who kept putting the phone down on her.

Eventually, she exclaimed to one of them 'you are all a bunch of selfish cunts'. The irony of which seemed to escape her.

I would have asked her to leave the carriage, but the schadenfreude derived from hearing this pathetic woman talking to her awful family was too overwhelming.
posted by asok at 9:45 AM on November 6, 2007


Hell - I was right the first time. I blame low blood sugar.
posted by Evangeline at 9:50 AM on November 6, 2007


Is it not rude if others don't notice? If you just... PRETEND not to be distracted? What about if instead of turning it to vibrate to supposedly not be rude to your real life conversation partner you turned the fargin thing OFF? I don't want to talk to you if you're secretly waiting and hoping some better-because-not-there friend will stim you with your nasty little buzz box.

There's an article in a recent Atlantic Monthly by some guy who is against multitasking because he lost out on getting cheap plane tickets one time when he got distracted by a pop-up and went to read about K-Fed instead of completing his transaction.

This same guy almost died because he was driving to see his out-of-state girlfriend when she phoned him. He ran off the road because he was trying to get to the phone to see whether the woman he was driving to see had sent him a picture of her breasts. I bet if he had been playing with her breasts and heard her jungle love ringtone on his phone, he'd've looked away from her breasts momentarily to see whether she'd sent him a picture of her breasts. Because whatever is NEW and HIDDEN that you have to OPEN UP AND DISCOVER is by default more exciting and important than whatever is right there in front of you, even if what's there in front of you is a fence post about to plunge though your windshield and impale you in the chest (he continued thinking about the phone call even after he became dimly aware that he was having an accident). (Do you really think, my "polite" addict "friend," that you can concentrate on talking to me while you're getting gently vibrated in your pocket? If this guy can't ignore his phone even to concentrate on his impending evisceration?)

After he gets his car back on the road he turns the radio to some "soothing Celine Dion" and lets his heartrate drop a smidgeon and then he calls the girlfriend to tell her he almost died trying to answer her phone call, and she is only mildly interested, since she's doing something else and hasn't really heard, and he is only mildly interested in her mild interest because he's bored: he's driving, listening to Celine Dion and talking on the phone. It has been the same song for almost a full minute. Nobody is trying to break in on the conversation. There are no good billboards to read. There is nothing going on.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:50 AM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thanks for responding, the cydonian. I don't think I have anything original to add at this point. Maybe I'll run into you on the 'Bubble one of these days...
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:56 PM on November 6, 2007


It intrigues and assaults you at once. It basically becomes thought pollution.

Indeed. The perfect description of several types of noise.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:37 PM on November 6, 2007


So, this cell phone, it vibrates?
posted by spiderwire at 10:00 AM on November 7, 2007


Don Pepino: There's an article in a recent Atlantic Monthly--

Link (subscribers only, unfortunately).
posted by russilwvong at 10:33 PM on November 7, 2007


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