Talking louder while on a cell phone call is exactly the problem. I have had to restrain myself from walking over to someone else in a restaurant who was talking excessively-loud when I was trying to have a normal conversation with my wife. I mean it was to the point of being ridiculous. Some people are just mannerless and inconsiderate. I keep saying it, but it keeps amazing me how some people act.
I agree...even worse is texting and cell use while driving, 40% of all accidents are caused this way...theoretically forbidden by law in many jurisdictions but very difficult to enforce...where I live (Vancouver) many people continue this bad habit...Kris
It might be more than that, though. When people speak to one another face to face, and close together, they can speak softly, and it's usually impossible to follow the conversation from another table, unless you really make an effort. This is the usual case in restaurants, unless you're unlucky enough to be next to a table of boors. Which certainly does happen.
When speaking on cell phones, many people enunciate more carefully and may even speak louder, so people nearby can't help but hear every word, and can't wait until they shut up.
As to texting, I'd say that's mostly rude to others at your table, more than to other clients. In movie theaters, even texting is distracting, because of the lit display.
I'm generally amazed at the clueless rudeness and ignorance that cell phones seem to have fostered.
I think there are two issues DrQuine which you mention. One, people speak louder, frequently for no reason. Two, you hear one side of the conversation. The annoying part is level of noise. We live in a society where noise is becoming a health hazard....Kris
The issue of speaking on cell phones in public has a puzzling twist. Excluding the case of people shouting in a misguided attempt to compensate for a poor connection, why is it so annoying? We easily tolerate people speaking with each other in public places and restaurants. I believe the unique problem with cell phone conversations is that hearing one side of a conversation is exceptionally distracting. Attempting to fill in the missing half of the conversation causes us to become much more engaged in the distracting conversation than we otherwise would be.
A point to be made here, too, is that the rules of etiquette are different in different societies, and that in some cultures etiquette is far more codified and insisted upon than in other cultures.
Even trivial examples, like basic table manners. How to hold a knife and fork, for example. How to chew with your mouth closed. What we might consider to be common knowledge or universally understood, believe it or not, is NOT always.
Even small stuff. In parts of Europe I'm familiar with, it is considered bad manners to constantly shift the fork from your left to your right hand, e.g. when eating steak. In the US, if you stick the fork in your mouth with your left hand, they think you're left-handed. Americans don't frown upon cutting up a bunch of pieces of meat first, then switching the fork and eating.
Never mind burping at the dinner table. That too is considered acceptable, in certain parts of the world.
So I suppose something as seemingly obvious as texting or talking on the phone at a restaurant might not be drop-dead obvious bad manners to some people.
The problem with all this etiquette stuff is that it IS a matter of etiquette. If you are brought up to behave in public then you know how to behave in public: speak with a low voice, don't interrupt, don't laugh loudly, give way, smoke outside, use a "virtual" telephone booth as the space to speak on a remote wireless device, and so on. Society in general has lost the sensitivity toward each other. It began with the "me" attitude and has accelerated in the age of "me" technologies.
A recent story I heard encapsulates it best: "Ever wonder what the 'i' in iPhone, iPod, iPad stand for?" We know it is for 'interconnect' or some such gimmicky marketing thingy Great Apple thought up; the person asking thought it designated the singular 'I'. He was not far off.
It all boils down to common courtesy when using a cell phone. Some countries have it and others don't.
In the late 90's I spent some time in Japan and was amazed at the difference between our North American counterparts. In restaurants in Japan, if your phone rings (or blinks), you quickly excuse yourself and step outside or in the entrance area to talk. You show respect to those who are with you and around you. In North America, when our phone rings we stop our current (in person) conversation mid-sentence, whip out our phone and treat the person on the other end as being more important than the ones we're currently with. Other patrons get the privilage of watching you spit food as you loudly try to overcome the background noise and the cell company's poor reception. Show some manners PLEASE! I also have issues with those who go to meetings and spend the entire time tapping out messages on their phones ... why have meetings if you're constantly distracted? But that's for another column.
blinking phones - In Japan, where it's considered rude to have your phone ringing in a restaurant, RF devices (key fob sized) are carried around and a light flashes when it detects the incoming RF signal. The young kid in the video claims it's the best $10 they've ever spent. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYJMsPPAruU
Maybe this should also be implemented in work places. I know someone who spends more time texting, talking on his cell and emailing with friends and family than he does doing actual work. And one female talks so loudly on the phone it's incredibly distracting for a very large cubicle area. It's then same person who used to make snapping and cracking noises while chewing gum until I complained to HR because I truly couldn't stand it any more. It's amazing how some people actually don't understand how annoying they can be to others around them.