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Old 06-21-2003, 03:38 PM   #1
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National Cellphone Courtesy Month to coincide with National Baked Bean Month!

Dial `M' for manners
Cellphone users get a wake-up call as the battle between the annoyed and the annoying heats up Nasty confrontations `are turning

Rude cellphone users are getting out of hand. As cellphones proliferate, the battle between impolite cellphone users and the non-users who hate them has heated to a fever pitch.

Apparently uncivilized cellphone users are getting a final, abrupt wake-up call as disgruntled movie-goers, public transit passengers and restaurant patrons fume they've had enough of the incessant ringing and loud, personal conversations.

In a bid to cool things off, Palm Beach manners expert Jacqueline Whitmore, has launched a public relations campaign, declaring July as National Cellphone Courtesy Month in the U.S. To put this in perspective, July is also National Hot Dog Month and National Baked Bean Month.

Whitmore, who offers personal and professional etiquette courses that include seminars on polite cellphone use, established July as national cellphone month while contracted as a consultant for Sprint PCS.

People are at wit's end, says Whitmore, who hopes to promote a detente between cellphone users and the people they enrage. Sometimes the solution is as simple as learning how to use features that make cellphones less obtrusive, like vibrating and text messaging functions, she explains.

Carol Page, founder of, is the Emily Post of cellphone courtesy. She recalls the time she got caught pulling out her cellphone in a movie theatre just to check her messages. "I got my first cell glare," she says. "I just smiled and explained that I was not going to use the phone." That's when she first realized that an epidemic of bad manners was erupting around the world.

These confrontations, she says, are becoming more prevalent and more violent. "They are turning people into monsters."

From an indignant harrumph to threatened fisticuffs, cell wars show no signs of cooling.

Impolite cellphone users represent a whole new category of bad behaviour that crosses social, economic and age boundaries. And more and more, irritated bystanders are taking action.

Ordinary people are confronting the discourteous cellphone owner with everything from a disapproving frown, to a lecture on cellphone courtesy and even violence. As cell rage escalates, some jurisdictions are imposing legislation to address the problem. Last February, a New York City ordinance was officially adopted to prohibit the use of cell phones at all public performance. Offenders are subject to a $50 (U.S.) fine.

There were 423 million cellphones sold in 2002 and soon, one in six people will carry their own mobile communication device.

Cellphone addicts are a reality. At their worst, they endanger our lives when they get behind the wheel. And at their most benign they are merely irritating. On the transit system they are aggravating. At work, when their unmanned cellphone rings endlessly, they are distracting. A recent survey of 6,000 people by a recruitment company found that irritating mobile phone rings are the top workplace nuisance, followed by malfunctioning office equipment. And as more and more people discontinue their home phone service to rely completely on their cellphones, the problem shows no sign of abating.

Tales of cellphone rudeness are becoming the stuff of lore. Nightmares of phones ringing with the synthesized sounds of the William Tell Overture during a church service, during university lectures, at the opera or ballet during tense periods of emotional silence and at golf games at the precise moment of that big put are only funny after the fact. Actor Laurence Fishburne once stopped a theatre performance to reprimand a member of the audience who had dared to take a call during a live performance. The audience burst into applause.

Volume is a big issue. "With a normal phone you can hear your own voice and you can adjust it accordingly. But cellphones are so small and you can't year yourself and sometimes you worry about dropped connections so you compensate by talking louder," says Page. "People have to learn that they can't yell loud enough to fix a bad connection."

What's more, the number of people who are willing to conduct highly personal conversations in public places is growing rapidly. From domestic disputes between husbands and wives to the banal conversations of the world's most boring people, there are no details of anyone's life so intimate that they can't be shared with a crowd in line at Starbucks or with passengers on a streetcar. Page says the two most loathed subjects of conversations carried out on cellphones are about health "the results of their recent colonoscopy" and relationships "why the boyfriend didn't call."

Cellphones blur the boundary between public and private space, say manners experts, like Charlotte Ford. In her book 21st Century Etiquette, Ford writes that cellphone users should turn phones off or set them to vibrate at business meetings, in restaurants and other public places. Too many people get the idea that they're at home or in their office because they are having an intimate one-on-one conversation. They forget that they're in public and that everyone around them can hear their conversation.

Armstrong does not recommend confronting a rude cellphone user. "Take it to a higher authority," she says. "Get the manager of the restaurant or movie theatre to say something to the offending cellphone user,"

"No one likes to be told that they are being rude," says Page. She tells people who are determined to approach a rude cellphone user that they should practise a voice that is non-threatening. "Edit out all sarcastic or condescending tones in your voice," she advises. For example, try something like this straightforward approach: "I bet you don't know how much your voice carries and everyone around you can hear your personal business."

Then run.

As the number of cellphones in use around the world grows exponentially, Page is not confident the problem is going to get better any time soon. "I'd hate to think we are heading toward a world in which we become immune to this kind of rudeness simply because everyone does it," she says.

Bans on their use are unrealistic, she believes. People who use them are going to have to learn how to behave properly. And people who are annoyed are going to have to learn how to react appropriately. Until such time, cell wars will rage.

And one final word of advice: Always double-check to make sure your phone is completely disconnected when you've finished making a call.

If the line is left open, the person you were talking to can still hear everything you say.

Friendships have been destroyed.

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Old 06-21-2003, 09:02 PM   #2
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Re: National Cellphone Courtesy Month to coincide with National Baked Bean Month!

Originally posted by Mrs. Edge
to the banal conversations of the world's most boring people
They've been listening in on my cellphone conversations...

I don't talk on the phone when I drive because I'm a bad enough driver anyway. I hate it when I'm nearly killed by someone on the phone.

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Old 06-22-2003, 01:13 AM   #3
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cellphone courtesy?

there's no such thing!
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