Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I'm Invisible--I Wish You Were Too

Scientists seriously need to study a phenomenon that has taken hold in modern society. This unusual occurrence is apparently caused by cellphones. I am referring to the fact that cellphone usage in the vicinity of people other than the particular cellphone user causes all other people to disappear and become invisible.

Yes, I'm going to rant about cellphones and the people who use them. And yes, they deserve to be ranted about. Just because a user seems unable to see me doesn't mean I am not there. I am more than sick and tired of this. I don't want to know what some unknown stranger on the bus said to his girlfriend during a fight. I don't want to know the condition of someone's stomach or hemorrhoids. I don't want to know all the million and one details of a stranger's life. But I do know all of this. I can't help but know all of this.

Our hearing system does not have an on/off button. When I am standing on line, or on a bus, or in the supermarket, or at a restaurant or anywhere else I have a right to be, I don't want to be held captive by someone else's conversation.

I am amazed by all the things people will say over phone lines that are far from secure. I am more amazed that they don't notice all the people around them when they are talking. The fact that the US government is working on getting cellphone service to airline passengers during a flight appals me. Can you imagine a hell worse then a 12-hour flight and forced listening to 350 "private" conversations?

I struck a blow a while back. Someone in a restaurant was having the kind of conversation better had with closed doors and blacked out shades. The person I was with and I were getting really frustrated. We couldn't hear what we were saying but his voice came in loud and clear. I finally turned my chair and gave the answer to a question that the speaker had asked the listener. The speaker was flabbergasted and more than a little put out. "This is a private conversation! Who asked you to butt in?!" Sweetly I answered: "Why you did, by having this conversation one foot from my ears."

A while ago we had tickets for the US Open Tennis Tournament. Imagine what fun it was to have the man in the row directly in front of us conducting business throughout the whole match.

Reasoning with the people who are being rude in this way is useless. Some day the newspapers will have a screaming headline: "Man on cellphone murdered during inappropriate conversation on the M11 bus: Jury refuses to convict assailant." I hope that day comes soon.

A philosophy professor I know routinely asks his students if they believe they are capable of murdering someone. If that person is a cellphone user in a public venue, my answer is a decided "YES!"


G said...

You really need to get out of NY.

Anonymous said...

Would make an interesting case for the Supreme Court on privacy issues. There's no expectation of privacy in public for the phone user so he can't complain if you break into his phone conversation. Of course you can't be said to have any private space in public that the user is violating either. Enclosed places like a restaurant might be a different case. I don't like all the noise either but if you live here that's what you are going to get.

Anonymous said...

Cell phones are a safety and security issue. If you have to pay for the good by putting up with the strange conversations then that's the price. Earplugs maybe?

Anonymous said...

I heartily disagree with anonymous above. Cellphones are indeed a safety and security issue and should only be used for those reasons when there's a chance you might disturb others. Subjecting the universe to your private conversations that have no business being talked about in public has zip to do with either safety or security, and everything to do with self-centered behavior on the part of the talker.

If a friend calls me for a non-emergency reason on my cell and I'm in a public place or on a bus, I use the good manners my parents bestowed on me and politely tell them I'll call them back when I'm in a position to talk freely.