Manners with cell phone use a rarity

Jed Herrington and Jed Herrington

As the holiday season approaches, we begin to prepare for vacations and downtime with friends and family. Along with the celebration of kinship, blessings and religious tradition, many people use this time to purchase gifts for those persons they feel inclined to give to.

This year, I have decided to give BG News readers an informal guide to using an increasingly popular Christmas gift.

The popularity and usage of cellular phones has increased dramatically over the last five years. According to, over 520 million cellular phones were sold in 2003. Constant cell-phone usage has become a permanent reality. Almost everyone talks on their cell phone in public at least once a day. When and how they choose to do it can be the difference between rudeness and courtesy.

The problems with inconsiderate cell phone usage has become so bad in recent years that a New York restaurant, Chelsea’s Biltmore Room, has installed a soundproof booth for patrons involved in such “important” business that calls cannot wait until after dinner. Certain daily cellular occurrences on the campus equal the absurdity that has driven Chelsea’s to make such an extreme invention.

There are two main annoyances involved with cell-phone usage: loud, obnoxious ringers and public conversations.

The first point to be considered is at one time or another, no matter how thoughtful a person is, the phone will ring or alert beep, even if it was checked thirty times as to whether or not it was on. This phenomenon is no excuse to give up and totally disregard the responsibility of making sure all ringers and beepers are turned off in closed quarters.

Monday is the beginning of finals week and many students are crammed into the computer lab at the Union. Six phones went off within an hour yesterday. Most students in the lab are deep in concentration trying to complete projects. When a loud ringer goes off, it can startle someone and totally wreck his or her train of thought.

The ringer problems aren’t just limited to computer labs. Classrooms have also become victims of the wrath of absentminded cellular subscribers. It seems incredibly ridiculous to have our expensive education interrupted by crappy beeping renditions of “The Happy Birthday Song.” If your phone does go off in class, don’t just sit there and giggle like a five-year-old who has just seen the opposite sex naked for the first time.

My assumption is that many people are unable to figure out how to set their phone to vibrate. This baffles me because if someone is able to download “Pop Ya Collar” from a ring tone provider, they should be able to set their phone to vibrate. Most new “cellies” have arrows on the side of the phone that toggle between silent, vibrate, vibrate and ring, and the levels of loudness. If your phone doesn’t have vibration, it’s time to invest in a new one. You probable look like Zack Morris anyway, walking around with an object up to your ear resembling a shoe.

Some people may argue that they can’t hear or feel the phone when it is on vibrate. Most phones are semi-loud when they vibrate, but if it is that difficult to discern when the phone is ringing in this mode, it might be best if you find a way to rig it to your crotch.

As far as talking in public or in close-quarters with other people- no one wants to hear your conversation. You aren’t that interesting.

Listening to people talk on their phone while driving in a car is the worst. Who wants to be subjected to hearing only one end of usually meaningless conversation? There have been many times when someone has repeatedly turned down the music in my car to conduct an insignificant exchange. This behavior almost warrants pushing the offender out of the moving vehicle.

If you aren’t bothering anybody, then there really isn’t a problem. Going outside is always an option, because others aren’t trapped in an enclosed space with you. Places like the dining area of the Falcon’s Nest seem large enough and always at such a low, continuous roar, that a quiet conversation won’t even be distinguishable from others people talking.

Overall, proper use of cell-phones boils down to respect. If someone doesn’t have respect for or isn’t even aware of the environment around them, they are not likely to monitor the way in which they use their favorite little toy. Rude cellular patrons are usually the same people that litter and talk loud in quiet study rooms.

Hopefully these disturbers of concentration will come around and this won’t be an issue much longer, but if it is, there are a couple of other Christmas gifts that can help remedy their problem.

The first gift is a baseball bat to smash their phone. The other is a few rolls of quarters so they can “conduct business” the old fashion way.

E-mail Jed with comments at [email protected].