General Question

ayendrea's avatar

Why does a person talking on the cell phone annoy more than two people having a conversation (with the same amounts of volume and stupidity)?

Asked by ayendrea (20 points ) November 23rd, 2006
My feeling is that it has something to do with the pacing, as with why I can't do yoga- as soon as you think you're settled, it keeps starting again.
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12 Answers

Modern_Classic's avatar
Exactly. Variance in amplitude. When you hear both parties of a conversation the volume remains fairly constant and your brain can put the conversation in background and you can pretty much ignore it (unless someone mentions your name). A one sided conversation is constantly flipping between low and high volume, and thus constantly grabbing your attention, also, since you only hear one part, a bit of your consciousness is enlisted to figure out what they're talking about. One solution: you provide the unheard part of the conversation: annoys the **** out of the inconsiderate cel phoner.
gailcalder's avatar
What happens when the inconsiderate cell phoner turns his rage on you? One does have the expectation that two friends in proximity will be talking to each other, unless they are Quakers and have some concept of silence (which is really lovely.) Whereas many cell conversations are drivel and totally unnecessary...at least the side that I have heard, and heard, and heard.
plevy's avatar
Perhaps it is because we can only eavesdrop on half of the conversation.
bob's avatar
I think that people on cell phones talk louder than people having a conversation. People tend to shout on cell phones.
bob's avatar
But I do think that cell phone conversations are very annoying at normal volumes, as well. I hated hearing those on the bus -- people would be talking about their days and yammering away. I think the variance in amplitude is a good explanation.
Modern_Classic's avatar
RE: What happens when the inconsiderate cell phoner turns his rage on you? An excellent question. Rarely happens, but certainly possible. But that's a possibility if you (the bereaved innocent) were to flat out say "Excuse me, could you keep it down?" ...or.. "Hey, you with the phone, keep it down", or simply stared like a madman off his meds. If you're afraid of auditory space invading bullies your only choicse are to put in the ear buds and crank up the ipod, leave, or suffer. Oh, and if circumstance permit, you can always "accidentally" spill or drop something as you leave (run).
gailcalled's avatar
I tried, pleasantly, recently, to suggest that the woman on her phone take it outside. It was a pleasant day, the cafe was the size of a hankerchief and the outer door about a yard from her. She turned her back and ignored me...I was scared to push the issue so suffered in a very sulky way. Besides, this is a very small town and she might have a hulkish husband sitting on the bench outside. Or they could simply wait a day or two and I would be back, on the block-long main street.
gailcalled's avatar
*handkerchief Otherwise, great advice, Modern.
samkusnetz's avatar
i think it's because we perceive a phone call as a private thing, and it's being done in a public place. the implication is that the person on the phone is co-opting that public space and claiming it as their own private space, which in turn feels like an infringement on the other people nearby.
irishdevil99's avatar
You could always send the offender to a website stating the rules of cell phone etiquette... Sprint has a good one: http://www2.sprint.com/mr/consumertopic.do?topicId=260
spendy's avatar

I sometimes liken it to the irritation of a rambling crazy person. Wouldn’t that be equally as annoying? Maybe a little scary too, but mostly annoying. It’s like plevy said, you’re only getting half the convo…unless the crazy person has multiple personalities and you’re witnessing a full-on dialogue. :)

On the other hand, many of the people I witness talking in publinc (on their cell…or to each other) seem to be having a conversation that is much louder than necessary. I just feel like it’s an attempt for attention. Kind of like the person who (after noticing you behind them in line) pulls out their spiffy new iPhone/Blackberry/etc. and fidgets with it. No phone call, just fidgeting. Then they put it away and carry on right after glancing to make sure you noticed. It’s like they identify so strongly with the phone that they feel you “wouldn’t understand who they were” without seeing it in their hands. Sad.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

Maybe because it’s seen as non-participation in the environment in which they are in, and it’s prohibitive of other communications in that environment.

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