Thursday, January 1st, 2009 | communication
Cell phones – or mobiles, as some prefer to call them – have uses. The man who stood five places ahead of me in the boarding queue at the airport used his cell phone to make him look important. “It is not acceptable,” he shouted several times. “I will not take any more of this from you.” And then the clincher: “I am taking my business elsewhere, and as you know, it is considerable.” The last statement was accentuated with a snap-shut of the device.
I felt annoyed. Have cell phones shifted the boundaries of public and private to the extent that it is acceptable for people to terminate “considerable” business deals in full hearing of a diverse audience? I certainly would not like to be told off in the hearing of a crowd of people.
But what I was most annoyed at was that my privacy was invaded. I was given no choice – my space was hijacked .
In the days of the wired telephone, conversations of this nature took place in a closed office. If I happened to be in a room and I sensed that a private discussion was brewing, I would discreetly take myself out of the room. Did the disappearance of the wire and the mobility of the cell phone throw ethical behaviour overboard?
The airport caller particularly irked me – maybe it was his brashness and the furtive look around from time to time, seeking affirmation of an audience. His may be an extreme case. But I am daily bombarded by people in public places shouting into their cell phones. What is worse is when they speak in a language I don’t understand. Perhaps this proves that I am a meddler – an indication that I am burning with curiosity about their private conversations. But if they do not have a loud and public conversation I would not be tempted to wonder what they are talking about. And sometimes I have no choice: I can’t get away. I am forced to listen.
Did a change in technology bring about a change in ethics as well? Are people perhaps acting in ignorance – new technology was foisted on them without giving them the opportunity to learn how to use it responsibly?
Or should good old-fashioned manners be enough to dictate how to use a new piece of technology?
Am I just getting old and grumpy … ?
2 Comments to Cell phone callers invade my privacy
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