cell phone irritation

I have always been perplexed at the anti-cellphone-conversation backlash. Granted there are some situations where talking on a cellphone is rude (movie theatre, for example). But I have seen people deliver the most resentful looks of disgust at people talking on a cellphone in the most innocuous places, including places where it would be perfectly acceptable to be having a face-to-face conversation. Professor Andrew Monk, a researcher at the University of York in the UK, noticed this too:

“I was surprised at just how annoying some people find mobile conversations,” he told BBC News Online.

In the study, 64 members of the public were exposed to the same staged conversation, either while waiting for a bus or travelling on a train.

Half of the conversations were on mobile phones and half were face-to-face conversations.

The conversation, about a proposed holiday and planning a surprise party for a friend, was conducted both at usually speaking level and exaggeratedly loud.

Participants were asked to rate the annoyance value of the conversation they heard on scale of one to five, as well as how much they noticed it.

Those conducted on a mobile phone in both categories were significantly more annoying and noticeable to the group than face to face ones.

That is, people seem to be mainly annoyed not with the cellphone usage itself, but just that there’s a conversation going on that they aren’t privy to. He makes the interesting conclusion that louder phones with speakers might actually be less annoying. Professor Monk himself says he doesn’t find cellphone usage that annoying:

“I think it is rather nice that people are talking to each other,” he said.