SHHH: Society for HandHeld Hushing

Shut Up Already

A while back I posted about the growing trend of just plain rudeness on the part of many cell phone users. It’s bad and getting worse, in my not-so-humble opinion.

So you can imagine my support for this idea:

Niiiiiice. I think I need to get me some of those. And I can download a .pdf on the Draplindustires Design Co. page with this design and more. Worth a look. (hat tip to a reader)


  1. I’m going to take you and the rest of the world on. I blogged on this topic once (see my archives, July 13, 2004), so I’m going to plaigerize my own writing to some degree. People who get in a twist about other people talking on their cell phones in public places should examine their own motives. A lot of them aren’t troubled by noise, or their own noise. They’re just ‘disturbed’ by this particular kind of noise, and their irritation derives from their own selfishness or nosiness. One day last summer, for example, I got a call while sitting in a Starbucks in the local mall. Suddenly and without warning, a rather large woman materialized at the table next to my easy chair, selecting it from among several other open tables that were not next to me. Like a bat out of hell, she shushed me and asked me to stop talking on my cell phone! Since I like to limit my enemy-making to the blogosphere, I smiled an accomodating smile and wrapped up my conversation. Shortly thereafter, the fat woman’s ugly friend (yes, an ad hominem attack is justified) arrived and the two of them began gossiping cruelly about all sorts of appalling matters at a volume clearly audible throughout the store, notwithstanding the music, the cappucino machine, and all the other distracting interference. Why, precisely, is prattling to your present friend morally superior, or less intrusive, than chatting in dulcet tones with your absent colleague? Then, two guys with laptops at different tables started talking loudly across the room, not just for a minute, but for an extended period. Yet the gossiping fat woman didn’t tell them to shut up. As far as I’m concerned, there can only be three explanations for this woman’s behavior. 1. Rank, self-centered hypocrisy. 2. An ideological hatred of cell phones, or cell phone users. 3. Frustration over the unfulfilled dropping of eaves — she could only hear one side of the conversation, and that annoyed her. As a naturally loud person who is often shushed just for being loud — I am sure that I have spoiled many a meal for innocent diners, which is why I avoid quiet restaurants — I appreciate that some people ‘screen’ better than others. If I’m too loud, I try to quiet down when people ask me politely. But do not single out one-sided cell phone conversations for intervention and then give other cacaphony a free pass. And if you are going to request that I be quiet, do not then burden me with the incessant flapping of your gums and shrill cackle of your scornful, derisive laugh. In my opinion, people are frustrated by cell phone conversations because they can only hear one side and therefore cannot eavesdrop. Their curiousity is unsatisfied, and that annoys them, so they blame the cell-phone user. If these busy-bodies ignored the one side of a cell phone conversation as they should ignore conversations between people who are both present, all would be well in the world. Bring it on!

  2. Excuse me Jack. But there’s a time and place for everything. You may have some valid points regarding obnoxious people and cell phone use…… However, allow me (a cell phone hater and retired Bell System employee) to relate my personal little saga. I was sitting at a cluster of Internet access terminals doing some on-line research in the public library in Chapel Hill, NC when a young lady sat down next to me. Shortly after she logged onto the net her cutsey little cell phone rang. Low and behold it was her boy friend, who she probably hadn’t seen or spoken to for at least 45 minutes. The next thing you know I was subjected to some steamy phone sex and hearing descriptions of certain sex acts which, by the way, I believe are still illegal in the state of North Carolina. She managed to have more sex in 5 minutes than I’ve had in 10 years of marriage AND surf the net simultaneously! I was impressed by her ‘multi-tasking’ abilities, but still very annoyed! Like you I like to limit my enemy-making to the blogosphere, so I went to the attendant at the Internet sign in desk, explained the situation and asked her to intervene. At first she was reluctant to ‘make waves’. However, when I reminded her it was a library not a telephone booth nor a porno studio and I would escalate my complaint to the head librarian she made a move and POLITELY asked the young lady to continue her conversation outdoors. Needless to say I was the recipient of some of that young lady’s foul words as she strutted off to entertain the flora and fauna!

  3. I feel your pain, but was it the cell phone or the substance of her conversation that was the problem? If she and a girlfriend had been right there gossiping about the same thing, would it have been any less offensive? I submit that it wasn’t the cell phone that made your encounter a problem. You are blaming the technology for the conversation, which might well have occurred in any case. Perhaps the best argument against cell phones is that they increase the total amount of public conversation. Before they were available, all the people in the world who were sitting alone were silent, even if the people in groups were flapping their gums. Now you don’t have to have a companion to bleat away, so there has been a gross increase in babble. Is that the complaint? If so, then it begs a question: What is it about your conversation partner being absent makes it a priori unacceptable to chat away, when it is just fine if she is right there breathing latte in your face?

  4. My problem isn’t with cell phones. It’s with the rudeness of many cell phone users. Cell phones simply provide an easy avenue for thoughtless people to be thoughtless. The people who are rude while on cell phones are probably also rude in other situations. The people who are rude in other situations are probably often rude while using a cell phone. The problem is rudeness.

  5. Cripes! I thought it was just me who couldn’t stand all the cell phone dweebs who think the world rotates around their a……., I mean cell conversations. Thank gosh I’m not a deviant………well……at least on this topic! LOL! The cards look like a great idea to me…….and more socially appropriate than a swat up side the head of offenders!

  6. There was a study written up in Science News a couple of months ago that analyzed whether cell phone calls are more annoying. The study authors hired actors to act out conversations on trains. In some cases there were two actors having a conversation. In other cases, one actor would be on the phone (having the identical conversation). A member of the study team would sit nearby with a decibel meter. After the (fake) conversation was complete, the student would interview nearby passengers to ask how annoying the conversation was. Results: People are more annoyed by the cell phone conversation than the in-person conversation. Soft cell phone calls are more annoying than loud in-person conversations. Their hypothesis? From their interviews, they do not believe that people were eavesdropping and annoyed they couldn’t hear the other side. Instead, they believe that people find it annoying to hear a conversation start and stop and start again. If two people are talking, you can tune out what amounts to a constant drone. If one person is talking on and off, you are constantly aware of the change from quiet, to talking, to quiet, etc. This makes sense to me. One time I had a flourescent light that buzzed in my office. They only time I ever really noticed the buzz was when I sat too still and it turned off (damn automatic lights). Suddenly it was really quiet. I had only noticed when the sound changed. When it got really bad, the one bulb would flicker on and off. It would buzz for a couple minutes, then turn off, then buzz again. The constant buzz had never bothered me, but this drove me insane. To me, cell phone calls work the same … its the on, off, on, off nature that drives me insane, even if I’m not listening to the words.