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Re: Annoyance of cell phone use in public spaces

Like many others, I have spent a lot of time musing (and fuming) about this
issue.  I believe the problem is primarily social, not acoustic.  While
people often do seem to talk louder into their cell phones than they do in
face-to-face conversations, I think that's a relatively minor factor in the
annoyance equation.

Consider this: how much tolerance would you have for someone talking to
himself in public?  Or someone singing along with his Walkman?  Or drumming
his fingers on the table?  Even if these activities are done quietly, they
are annoying, because they are violations of etiquette.

But the thing about etiquette is that it evolves over time.  I fear that
where cell phones are concerned, standards of etiquette are already
changing.  Hard-core cell phone users simply don't think they're behaving
rudely.  This shift in attitude will probably increase, especially as a
generation grows up that can't even remember a time before cell phones.  We
over-30 fogies may be doomed to go to our graves fulminating about the
decline in standards of public behavior, while the younger set responds with

Dan Freed
Software Engineer, Hearing Aid Research Lab
House Ear Institute
2100 W. Third St.
Los Angeles, CA  90057  USA
Phone: +1-213-353-7084
Fax: +1-213-413-0950
Email: dfreed@hei.org