July 11, 2004
Wireless World: The silence of the phones?
A great article from Gene J. Koprowski for United Press International on the origin of saying "hello" and cell phone etiquette.
"When Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, at the start of Mahler's "Symphony No. 2 in San Francisco, said that he was going to tape it, "an exceptionally crass person seated in the audience let his cellular phone ring repeatedly - during the taping".
To Koprowski, people are fumbling on how to behave appropriately with new technology, and in some ways, none of this is new, he writes.
"It is analogous to what happened during the first days of the telephone, after it was invented by Alexander Graham Bell.
At first, telephones had to remain on, because they did not have ringers. To get the attention of the party being called, people had to shout, often loudly, until someone would pick up the line.
Bell's archrival, Thomas Alva Edison, began pushing the idea of saying, "Hello!" when calling, but at first this was considered déclassé, Baron said. Hello!' was what you said to get the attention of the hounds," she said.
Eventually, the Edison usage became accepted. Today, no one thinks twice about saying "Hello!" when they answer a call.
[...] Baron, author of six books, including "Alphabet to E-Mail: How Written English Evolved and Where It's Heading," thinks many people have become "inured" to hearing other people's private conversations in public, and to having their own talks overheard.
"We're redefining ourselves," she said. "Everyone wants to express what they think and feel."
Robert Butterworth a psychologist in Los Angeles, said he thinks the reason some people do not care if others overhear their mobile phone conversations, or their even louder ring tones playing a pop song, is simply because in today's wireless world they "have a baffling sense of entitlement."
"They don't get sheepish when shushed," he told UPI. "You're the rude one."
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