o I’m an old guy. I only started carrying a phone because I’m cycling in this crazy city (Orlando). And it’s an old flip phone I’ve had for a decade. People walking on the nature trails around here piss me off when they have their heads in their phones. And drivers with phones (which is illegal), don’t get me started.
Not a fan.
But something that’s really become an issue – with all the content and bandwidth available, people are watching more stuff, and they are watching it louder and louder. On the train I ride, it’s become an epidemic – someone’s always watching an idiotic program loud enough for the entire car to hear.
Twice now, I’ve witnessed direct confrontations on this. Once, in a lab office, some guy was streaming vulgar rap music (n-word, f-bomb, and about every obscene reference to a woman’s body). I didn’t find my backbone that day, but a woman finally got up and, with all deference, asked him to turn it down. The guy seemed floored. He owned a phone. There are no direct rules. He’s never been told no to anything. He was actually surprised to be asked to turn it down. In the end, after a minute or two of pathetic self-pity mumbling, he called the woman a cracker and stormed out. God knows what he was in the lab for that day but he sure didn’t get it done. I guess that drug test wasn’t all that important for that job.
The other one was with a friend of mine in a restaurant just the other day. Two girls the booth behind my friend had a phone on and were watching an episode of something – loud. Finally I just caught the facing one’s attention and ask very politely if they might turn it down “just a bit”. Again, the incredulous reaction. How dare we even ask? This is a free country. I’m was squirming a bit on this but my friend (a grrl-power black lady) turned and told her “you just can take the ghetto out of some people” (actually, they were white, and since she’s black, it’s all the funnier). Finally they left and even the waitress later told us it was pretty strange, that sort of “living room in the restaurant booth” way of being.
But we’re seeing that more and more, this weaponizing of phones. Narcissism meets Nihilism, that there is no social conventions, that every space is yours and social convention is dead.
And I think this is a Western thing. On Japanese trains, everyone has a phone out but nobody is talking and all earbuds are in. I’d love for this to be like Anime and Manga, sweeping through the west, but I doubt it. People are rude, and this technology (like rude bumper stickers and political ballcaps) makes them even ruder. So get ready for this – you’ll be enjoying episodes of Seinfeld and Game of Thrones in doctor’s offices and airport boarding areas. And it has all the signs of getting worse.
Time for someone to develop a small yet effective jammer.