The New York Times has a great story today about the increasing use of cellphone jammers to shut up obnoxious cellphone yakkers in public places. They’re illegal in the U.S., of course, but people are importing them like crazy and putting them to good use. Seems like most of them are used to cut off cellphone signals in businesses and during sensitive situations (such as group therapy sessions) where assholes with no phone etiquette can ruin everyone else’s time. There are of course some who use them purely for fun…the bit about the guy who cut off the irritating teenager on a commuter train is especially good:
Andrew reached into his shirt pocket and pushed a button on a black device the size of a cigarette pack. It sent out a powerful radio signal that cut off the chatterer’s cellphone transmission — and any others in a 30-foot radius. “She kept talking into her phone for about 30 seconds before she realized there was no one listening on the other end,” he said. His reaction when he first discovered he could wield such power? “Oh, holy moly! Deliverance.”
Honestly, I’ve wanted one of these for years. There have been countless times where I’ve been in a public place where loud yakking is extremely irritating, and the fantasy of anonymously shutting them up was simply irresistible. Movie theaters, bookstores, classrooms, museums, you name it…some people just need to take it outside, because nobody wants to hear their one-sided conversation about OMIGOD TANYA YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT SHE DID LIKE NO WAY IT WAS LIKE SO LAME AND STUFF YOU GOTTA HEAR THIS.
The problem with these jammers, of course, is that they can be used for any ol’ cellphone situation, leading some to abuse them. It’s pretty shitty to wipe out cellphone signals within a 30-foot radius just to shut up one person. It’s tempting, but even I have to admit it ain’t right. You must use these powers for good!
Is it me, or are many people out there living in their own little bubbles, oblivious to others around them? Do they realize (or care) that their behavior is extremely irritating to everyone else? No, of course not, and they get very sanctimonious about it. “Hey, it’s MY RIGHT to talk on my phone WHENEVER I WANT! Don’t you try and limit MY rights, this is AMERICA and stuff!” Sure it’s your right, nobody’s trying to outlaw cellphone use. Everyone around you just thinks you’re an irritating dipshit, that’s all. If these people are fine with that, it’s kind of a depressing statement about our culture.
On the related subject of cellphone addiction, the other day we went to see a movie and were seated fairly high up in the auditorium. A full 20 minutes before the movie ended, I noticed at least a dozen cellphones lighting up in the audience as people checked their voicemail, read their text messages, tapped away furiously at their little keyboards, and probably even made a few calls. Can’t people just fucking switch off and enjoy a movie with their full attention anymore? Are those SMS messages and voicemails really so important that they can’t wait? Just stay home and rent a movie, then. Christ on a cracker! And here’s another one: a few months ago we were getting towards the end of the movie when a woman right behind us actually dialed up her husband and had a conversation. “Hey… Yeah, it’s me. The movie’s almost over. Can you come pick me up? I’ll be out on that street, that one in front of the theater. No, the other street, I can’t remember what it’s called. Yeah, that one. Oh, and blah blah blah blah blah…” We both turned and shushed her, but she didn’t really notice. This technology’s both a blessing and a curse, I tell ya. And the movie industry wonders why so many people are buying home theater systems.