I was going to use the title, “I hate mobile phones” but it would be a misnomer. I actually hate mobile phone users.
America seems to still think of cell phones as fashion statements rather than useful tools or devices. I don’t have a problem with colorful or cool phones, but the vast majority of Americans I’ve seen tend to treat cell phones the way yuppies treated car phones back in the ’80s: if you have one, then you’re part of the cool crowd. Too bad everyone has one nowadays. Just because you have one doesn’t mean squat anymore.
I hate custom ringtones. Not because people use lame-a$$ songs (like I can’t get enough hip-hop crap on the radio, TV, and movies) but because people seem to treat the ringtone as a mini-music player. When someone gets a call, it takes people a few seconds to figure out that it’s their phone that’s ringing (what’s the likelihood of someone else choosing the same ringtone?), then there’s the fumbling around trying to get the phone because it’s at the bottom of a purse or clipped on a belt, then they have to look at the caller ID to see who it is and if it’s worth actually answering, then they finally shut the ringer off.
Objectively it’s probably not for than 10 seconds. Subjectively it feels like 5 minutes and all the while I’m thinking to myself, “Just answer the bloody thing and give me back my quiet.” Quite often they have the ringer volume up high so they can make sure to annoy everyone in the restaurant or theater. Sometimes they take several seconds to analyze the caller ID, like they can’t figure out who’s calling them or why. Just answer the thing and figure out what the caller wants. You’ve already got it near your face, don’t stop now!
Then of course are the drivers with cell phones. I’ve read the articles about how driving with a cell phone is no worse than any other driver distractions (like eating), but it’s so much more common to see a bad driver with a cell phone stuck to her head than some other distraction. And I used “her” purposefully in that last statement. In my experience (and my wife completely agrees), women are more likely to use a cell phone while driving and they seem to be less able to drive safely while doing it. I’m not trying to be sexist, it’s just based on personal observation. But I also hate guys who do it too.
Seriously, is there anything happening in your life that is so vitally important that you can’t either pull off the road to talk or you can’t let voice mail take the call for you? Which is more important, finding out what fat-food you’re family wants you to pick up at the drive-through or arriving at the burger shack safely? Apparently it’s more urgent to answer the call right now because, like opportunities, they only ring once.
However, the states that pass “no driving with cell phones” laws are avoiding the problem. First, as I said, it’s not the use of cell phones while driving that’s a problem, it’s the fact of driving while distracted. Self-driving cars is about the only way to solve the problem. Second, even with the laws people still do it. As a matter of fact, the Pearl Harbor Naval Base has a ban on cell phones; you can’t even have an earphone attachment, though you can have a speaker phone (apparently you can’t see to drive if one of your ears is covered, at least that’s the only reason that makes sense according to military logic 🙂 ). However, one day I was waiting at the base medical clinic when a military cop drove up and guess what? Yep, she was driving into the parking lot with her cell phone stuck to her head. In the grand scheme of things, I think driving on regular streets with a phone is safer than trying to cruise through a parking lot.
I don’t understand the point of text messaging. How is it better than simply calling someone? If they don’t answer, just leave a message. Talking to someone is faster than trying to use the phone pad to make a message and you won’t strain your hands. Plus, many phone service providers charge you per message, whereas you essentially have unlimited voice calls. Plus, text messaging isn’t instantaneous. And the damn ringer is just as annoying as usual. I tried text messaging a few times but gave it up because it was too much work vs. calling someone and it just seemed stupid. If I want to send a text message to someone, I’ll buy a phone with a true keyboard.
My biggest gripe, though, would have to be the idiots who have the walkie-talkie phones. I believe Nextel “invented” the idea but I don’t know if anyone else does it (even though Sprint bought Nextel, not all their phones have it). I believe this is the single most annoying feature of cell phones. A few of my complaints: that damn “beep” after talking, the fact that I can hear the whole conversation, and the simple idea that you don’t need a walkie-talkie to discuss wedding arrangements while waiting in line at a book store. I do find it humorous to see fat people either using the walkie-talkie function or passing the phone between their ear and mouth because their heads are so big that the phone won’t fit correctly (obviously they don’t realize that the microphone is sensitive enough to pick up your words even if it isn’t directly next to your mouth).
The only people I can maybe see using this are contractors and other “industrial” workers, but still, that’s stretching for a case because speaker phone does the exact same thing. I can’t count the times I’ve been tempted to either knock the phone out of someone’s hand or simply jump into their conversation. I’m reaching the point where I don’t care about social etiquette and I’m sure one day I’ll do it.
Don’t get me wrong, mobile phones can be useful. The main reason I bought one was when I was moving across the U. S. Having a phone available if the moving van broke down is just another part of my emergency kit. But answering the phone during a movie is simply rude and uncalled for. Certain public places should be cell phone free, or at least on vibrate mode: restaurants, theaters, any place I am :). If I ever have a spare couple hundred dollars, I might get a pocket cell phone jammer, especially if the FCC makes them legal. It would be so much fun to have a “quiet zone” that followed me wherever I went.