Lunchtime poll – bring in the noise
September 10th, 2010
12:15 PM ET
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Speaking of shrieking kids of all ages raining terror down upon diners, didja know that scientists have found out why it's infinitely more annoying to hear cellphone conversations than regular ol' in person chats?

Mindhacks reported on a study that says it's because your brain has to work harder to keep up.

"A one-sided conversation (brilliantly named a ‘half-a-logue’) draws in more of our mental resources because the information is less predictable – like being fed a series of verbal cliff-hangers."

So how 'bout when you're served up one by a nearby diner?

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Filed under: Buzz • Lunchtime Poll


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soundoff (241 Responses)
  1. Ross

    For an individual to be speaking loudly on his/her cell phone with no concern for others close by is pathetically ignorant.

    September 13, 2010 at 6:39 am |
  2. tdiaz

    Start participating in the conversation, especially if it's on speaker phone. It's great fun. Might as well, they've got it so everyone can hear it.

    September 13, 2010 at 3:53 am |
  3. RosaFranklin

    This is such a bizarre issue. We all understand how easy it is to yell into a cell phone...so why don't more people modulate their voices accordingly? If I need to call home from the store and ask my husband about something I forgot on my shopping list, I just move myself and/or cart out of the way of traffic and speak quietly into the phone. It feels unnatural and weird – almost like I'm whispering – but the person on the other end of the call never seems to have trouble hearing me, and I bother the people around me less. It just takes a little awareness. So easy.

    September 13, 2010 at 3:19 am |
  4. bob

    I go Sweeney Todd on them and they become meat pies!

    September 13, 2010 at 1:07 am |
  5. publius enigma

    I cant remember the last time someone talked loud enough on a cell phone that it was disturbing. I guess when cell phones were new the technology wasnt so good so people had to talk loudly to be understood. Its not like that anymore.

    September 13, 2010 at 12:07 am |
    • Enigma Solved, well kinda

      You can't remember, or you weren't aware? Most just don't realize they are disturbing others; if they did, they might keep their volume in check.

      September 13, 2010 at 9:15 am |
    • publius enigma

      I hardly ever use one. Im talking about other people not disturbing me.

      September 13, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  6. ApeHanger

    What I do when a loud cell phone user is close by and I'm with someone, I loudly say things like, "Did you hear what that guy on the phone just said? He said he's "... Sooner or later, everyone is staring at the guy or gal and before you know it, they're off the phone.

    Something to ponder: why is it people talk loudly while on a cell phone? Some talk so loudly the person at the other end could probably hear them even if the phone went dead.

    September 12, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
  7. alienspacebabe

    I truly enjoy commenting on, discussing, and (yes) even disecting the offender's conversation. I've been told "this is private" – then go some place private!

    September 12, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
  8. flagmarshal

    Let mine ring (set it to go off by itself?) and then obviously turn it off. Not stop the call, but turn the phone off and apologize to the others at my table. Possibly I'd comment that only a police officer or a surgeon needs to answer their calls in a restaurant. The worst, but it's thankfully becoming less common, is the beeping (the sound, not a censored expletive) 'push to talk' two way devices that people use as walkie-talkies. Those have no place outside of a construction site or warehouse. At least, learn to turn off the beeps and use them as normal phones. Don't let everyone in earshot know about your work problems, please.

    September 12, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
    • Me

      I love the beeping push to talk phones. I've had one for years! The good thing about the newer models is you don't really have to push anything to talk, just leave the thing on the table and yell into it from where I am seated!

      September 12, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  9. Austin3759

    When I'm in a restaurant, I always set my phone to vibrate, then let the call go to voice mail (if the caller wants to leave a message). Plus, I have thte callers number in my call log. I think a phone call is a private matter and something that shouldn't be shared with the public. I know I hate them; I could care less about Aunt Flo's bunion surgery, or Suzanne getting her nails done at the new corner salon, or , Timmy f@rting during swimming lessons....blah, blah, blah.

    September 12, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  10. Austin3759

    When I'm in a restaurant, I always set my phone to vibrate, then let the call go to voice mail (if the caller wants to leave a message). Plus, I have thte callers number in my call log. I think a phone call is a private matter and something that shouldn't be shared with the public. I know I hate them; I could care less about Aunt Flo's bunion surgery, or Suzanne getting her nails done at the new corner salon, or , Timmy farting during swimming lessons....blah, blah, blah.

    September 12, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  11. John

    I use my cell phone jammer - kills all calls within 30'. Problem solved..

    September 12, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
    • Me

      And if used in the USA in any capacity other than federal, it is 100% illegal and you would be jailed swiftly. Problem solved, next?

      September 12, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
      • John

        Jailed swiftly? How naive are you? Do you really think the cops are going to put any priority on call phone jammers? Several of the deputies who go to my cafe´know I have and use this thing. And they are big fans of 'em, too.

        September 12, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
      • BarredOil

        You're just not very bright.

        September 13, 2010 at 7:25 am |
      • Paul

        You're right at first blush – you won't have a local cop come for you. More likely you'll get a cease and desist from the FCC and/or a cell phone company. The most likely avenue of detection will be a customer compliant and or a truck roll monitor. Cell companies are monitoring dropped calls with greater and greater precision as the requirements for E911 have brought about more location based services. They map dropped calls and/or complaints and they do send out people to check the spots to decide if they need to change the antenna config and/or deploy new equipment. They don't take kindly to jammers when they find them. Remember they paid billions for the right to use that airpace and there is no way you can be 100% certain what the effective range of the jammer is. The airwaves are pubic property rented to the cell companies – again for very large sums of money. If you don't take the hint from a letter you'll find yourself facing a combination of civil and criminal fines. Either you'll shut down your jammer or your business will be squashed. Its far better just to confront the rude idiot behavior in person than run around spilling RF onto the air.

        September 13, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  12. LivinginVA

    Don't talk so loudly that I have any reason to consider it my business.

    September 12, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  13. LivinginVA

    I found the perfect response for this by accident. A person next to me very loudly said "What do you think the weather will be like tomorrow?" I turned around and replied. The person looked shocked and I realized that he was wearing a Bluetooth. He, however, realized that he was not having a private conversation and quieted down....

    September 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  14. Commie Stooge

    At age 51, I have a far better solution:
    I take off one of my shoes off, and begin talking into it!
    Growing up in the 60s, every Sat night, we used to watch "Get Smart" in my house.
    Some years ago, in a restaurant, a 20 something girl was talking loudly into her cell phone. when I started talking into my shoe, everyone else started laughing, and she didn't understand the joke!

    September 12, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      I love it!!!!

      September 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
      • Carole Autenzio

        This is today and there are cell phones and there are crazy people who can't stand the crowd. Want peace and quiet, stay home. Want warmth and people – get used to the noise. Life is noisey. You are in "public". Happily that means people laughing, conversing, etc. That's life today. Get with the program. You probably should practice laughing, that might make you a happier person.

        September 13, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  15. wilson

    I hate when someone talks loudly on their cellphone. But you know what drives me insane? It's when someone starts playing their really crappy music on the speaker phone, OR if they have a loud conversation using their speaker phone! Especially if it's in walkie-takie mode. "Hey dude... what's going on BEEP" – "Not much , howzit going with you? BEEP" I get so pissed that I interrupt them and tell them to shut the F up.

    As for the music... wow. I had a guy plop down next to me in a Starbucks one time and he started watching youtube and listening to music over his speaker phone. This was combined with the piped in music from Starbucks! People are extremely rude nowadays.

    September 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  16. Julie

    If obnoxious cell phone users intrude on my space, I just return the favor by commenting in such a way as to interfere with their conversation and for the person they're talking to to hear as well. I don't enjoy fighting obnoxiousness with obnoxiousness – but it seems increasingly to be the case that being polite and nice is ignored. If people can't be considerate of other human beings then they ought to go live out in the country in some barnyard.

    September 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
    • Me

      If you try to retaliate in some way to my phone conversation, sometimes I will not only get louder, but also begin to throw some vile vulgarities into my phone conversation, which is already loud. Morale of the story is, mind your own business.

      September 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
      • John

        If you pulled this on me, I would walk up to you and yank the phone out of your hand - then leave long before the police showed up. I did it once to someone who was yammering on their phone after they almost hit me while they were driving and I was on my motorcycle. Their window was down, so I rode up to them at the next light, grabbed the phone, and tossed it over the roof of their SUV. Took off before they could even get their distracted wits about them to even think about getting my vanishing plate number. There are always solutions to social monsters like you, little girl.

        September 12, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
  17. Me

    I talk as loudly as I want on the phone and there isn't a single thing anyone can do about it. If the people around me get louder, I get louder, no one can be louder than I. I have never been asked to leave by staff, as they will not throw my money out the door. If someone makes a comment to me about it, they are simply 100% ignored and not acknowledged. In conclusion, I don't care about you if I don't know you.

    September 12, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
    • SMH

      Yuppie Larvae..I feel sorry for anyone you work with or live with, whether you know them or not.

      September 12, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Your comment on "they won't throw me and my money out the door" only works if you are a regular and the people you are annoying are not. If you are a first-time customer and several regulars complain, you bet they'll toss you out. Of course, if you are as much of a selfish person as your post makes you out to be, the servers where you ARE a regular probably aren't happy to see you sit down either.....

      September 12, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
      • John

        Of course she's (or he's) as selfish as he appears here, but the staff at my cafe where I use my jammer every day are well-aware that I have it and use it - and all are grateful. EVERYONE: BUY A JAMMER; they're getting cheaper and cheaper.

        September 12, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
    • publius enigma

      If someone is disturbing in a restaurant I let the waitress know. If she chooses to do nothing, then no tip.

      September 13, 2010 at 12:11 am |
    • realityckeckChick

      You are the most inconsiderate a– hole and I hope you choke on your dinner while your increasing your volume to annoy others. Can't say I would actually remember cpr for you if you were that rude.. hmmm how does the hymlich manuever work...?? Seriously, people who have absolutley no consideration for their fellow humans and intentionally antagonize them, are not missed.

      September 13, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  18. Dustin Bufflin

    If this really bothers you, go on the offensive. Get a portable cell phone jammer.

    September 12, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • SMH

      Nice try Dustin
      Blocking telephone communication is an FCC violation. While there are companies overseas that sell such devices, they are illegal in this country...unless the structure of the building itself is modified to interfere in cell phone reception...ie lead walls, or any other material similar to walls surrouonding an MRI in a hospital. If you have the smarts to develop your own device on the sly...go for it.

      September 12, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
      • publius enigma

        I dont think there is any way to catch someone jamming.

        September 13, 2010 at 12:13 am |
    • John

      Illegal or not, my jammer works within a very narrow radius (about 30'). The only reason they are illegal is because of the threat of an emergency 911 call being blocked, but I'd know if someone is calling 911 within 30', so I feel perfectly okay with killing calls. In my coffee shop, I've killed three or four at once, and no one has any idea what' has happened, so they just take their calls outside. I have all of the regulars trained to leave what they think is a "dead zone" inside the cafe´.

      September 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
  19. Luigi

    How about "Would you turn on the speaker? I want to hear both sides of this."

    September 12, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
  20. farts with the wind

    shes kinda retarded to example: now she wants me to do the dishis :(

    September 12, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  21. farts with the wind

    my mom said shes fulcan

    September 12, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  22. Vicki Kunkel

    Ooops. First sentence of my last post should read: "The study is only HALF of the reason why we FIND "half-a-logues" annoying. Second sentence is also missing a few words. Sheesh! Typing faster than the brain is working today. :(

    September 12, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  23. Vicki Kunkel

    The study only is HALF of the reason why we "half-a-logues" annoying. Another, widely-publicized study by linguistic anthropologist Robin Eve, who says hearing only half a conversation throws our internal rhythm off balance. She calls it "reciprocal oscillation" - a fancy way of saying that the back-and-forth chatter between two people in a conversation syncs our natural biological rhythms. When we hear only ONE side of a conversation, our biological rhythms get thrown out of whack. (I only know this because I wrote an entire book on the topic of how anthropological conditioning affects our behaviors, buying habits, and moods.) Eve's research is good stuff, for anyone who may be interested.

    September 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  24. Mike

    I turn on my cell phone scrambler.

    September 12, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  25. iodine

    i was waiting on the bench at the front of the supermarket and there was a woman at the self-checkout in front of me swearing to beat the band, i thought, glad i didnt try the self-checkout it must be hard to figure out, f- this g-d that, son of a so and so, then she turned around and i could see the phone attached to her ear. made me wonder WHO she was talking to

    September 12, 2010 at 11:55 am |
  26. Pho Njammer

    I carry a cell phone jammer.

    September 12, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  27. RichJ

    I think we should follow the example of restaurants in many other countries like Japan France etc and ban cellphone usage in restaurants. Go outside as you would if you wanted to smoke.

    September 12, 2010 at 11:37 am |
    • Mike

      Why is it the simplest and most effective solutions are so hard for people to grasp?

      September 13, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
  28. TobyK

    This is directly related to the screaming-kids-in-restaurants issue. Parents don't teach their children how to behave in public so they go from being small, loud creatures to large, loud creatures. And it becomes a vicious cycle because the large, loud creatures don't know any better (not an excuse) and can't parent their own small, loud creatures.

    September 12, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  29. zeen

    I usually carry a small spiraled notepad (2×4), so when someone close is very obnoxious, I pull out my pad and pretend to be taking notes about the call. Usually it takes very few seconds to shut it down. The notes? usually my to-do list, but if you really lean-in to the talker and look questioningly at them once or twice, that will almost always get them to stop, or leave. Just make sure the talker doesn't look like a thug, or you could be in for more than your bargain of fun!

    September 12, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  30. jtb

    Most people simply talk louder when using a cell phone than when using a land-line phone or talking to someone in person. When my wife uses our land-line phone at home, I can barely hear her in the next room. When she uses her cell phone, I can hear her all over the house!

    September 12, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  31. steve

    it's rude to talk loud, go outside if you can't hear.

    September 12, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  32. Andras Feszthammer

    I think people in restaurants are loud even without the cell phones. Why all the yelling?

    September 12, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  33. Christellafella

    Charge a dollar for every cell phone call that the person initially receives, and charge a $.25 for every minute. Post that in the restaurant.

    September 12, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  34. unohav_1

    It never ceases to amaze me the things people are willing to discuss on their phone in a public setting. I was in line once at Ikea with the girl in front of me giving in great detail over her phone that she had underwent an abortion. Now I'm not anti-abortion so wasn't offended in that way, but it was still mortifying to essentially be made part of this conversation via proximity. Had THIS actually occurred in a restaurant you can be damned sure I'd have said something.

    Oh and as a former waitress, I wouldn't wait on you if you were on the phone. Wasted MY time and hurt my tips. I had other customers to attend to until you got off the stupid phone.

    September 12, 2010 at 3:42 am |
  35. david

    I remember reading a story once where an orchestra was performing in a big concert hall. In the middle of the performance a cell phone rang in the audience. The conductor stopped the orchestra, faced the audience and folded his hand in front of him. He waited, and when he was certain he wouldn't be interrupted again he turned around and started the orchestra again , right where they left off.
    I think it would be great if that happened in a restaurant. Someone begins yakking loudly on the cell phone, and everyone in the restaurant stops talking, stops eating and the waitstaff stops serving until the loudmouth stops the call.

    September 12, 2010 at 2:01 am |
    • Derek

      I think if people started doing that, I'd tell people to call me just to mess with you. :-)

      September 12, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  36. PiercedPsycho

    People are louder on cell phones than on landlines because with a landline you can hear the echo of your voice and therefore you're quieter....unless you're genuinely a loud person.

    If I'm at a restaurant and I get a call that I think will take a while, I do the same thing I do when my toddler misbehaves and I leave. There's no point in subjecting strangers to my business.

    September 12, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  37. theresa

    Honestly, whether or not someone is on a cell doesn't bother me that much IF they are having a "normal" conversation. The ONLY conversation I've "overheard" against my will was on a subway a few years back. Between two IRS agents, who were literally "plotting" how to "get" people and their stuff. It was amazing. They totally ignored the fact that most of the people on the subway car were paying rapt attention – and they didn't have a cell phone in sight.

    September 12, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  38. Ituri

    I tend to stare intently, not angrilly, but I STARE and make sure they know I'm hanging on their every word. If they say something snarky I just respond "You were talking so loud there's no way you don't want me to know your private business."

    They tend to shut up about then. Though one guy did pull a knife, but hey, if they're already unstable they'll pull it on someone...

    September 11, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  39. David

    I think it depends on what kind of restaurant, if its fine dining then they should be asked to leave. But if its a burger shack then its a little more acceptable.

    September 11, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
  40. Jon

    I have been known to "join" the conversation with a person talking loud on a cell phone. When they give me a line such as "this is a private conversation," I tell them "No. It isn't." Sometimes that actually works to get them to quiet down.

    September 11, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
  41. AC

    I just turn on my military grade cell phone jammer, it always does the trick :^)

    September 11, 2010 at 9:30 pm |
  42. Gene

    I join in on their conversation and laugh loudly at what they laugh at, answer questions they ask to the person on the phone (only generally with sarcasm and being as big a douchebag as I can be...) and say things like: "OK, well I gotta go now, there's a lot of other people hear listening..." I generally get a laugh or two, and some people even join in the debauchery...

    September 11, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  43. Ryan

    It usually doesn't bother me, unless it is a person who thinks they still have to yell into the phone for the person on the other end to hear them. Then I just tune them out, because it doesn't matter if you talking to someone on the phone or in person, if the ambient noise in the resturant is that loud it's hard to hear anyone in the first place. But I have found most people have the courtesy to take their call outside if it is in a quiet place.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
  44. Easton Jackson

    Two words. Cellphone jammer. The NYTimes had a great article a couple of years ago about these devices. They're illegal in the US, but apparently they're easy to import.

    September 11, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • Derek

      I hope you can live with yourself when the ER doctor, who's on-call for the night, fails to get the call to come in and save someone's life because you decided that your hatred of cell-phones in a restaurant was more important.

      Oh, right, you're so self-absorbed it would never even occur to you.

      September 11, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
      • tnnurse

        I am an ER doctor with a cell phone jammer. I need a day off.

        September 13, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  45. Martin

    I get take out or delivery. Then I don't have to put up with it.

    If I go to a fancy restaurant, I expect them to have a "no cell phones" policy if they want my business, and MANY of them do.

    September 11, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  46. Firey Buddha

    or how about when you're traveling or carpooling, and someone is having a conversation on their cell w/ their SO about their dog's last poop or some other banal topic, and you're expected to stop all conversation while they chat. Uh, no...

    September 11, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  47. OhthatChar

    Consider: Restaurants should adopt this policy. If more than 2 people, of different parties, make a complaint against rude phone users, a donation of $10 will automatically be added to the phone user's bill. This will go to a charity of the donor's choice, of the restaurant's list of organizations it would like to sponsor. Like ASPCA, ONE, Red Cross, etc.

    September 11, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  48. RigidPrinciples

    If folks can't stop talking on their cell phones in restaurants, the government will be forced to step in and make cell phones illegal in restaurants.

    September 11, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  49. Cantstandrudeness

    Was waiting at the airport a week ago, and as usual, hubby and I got there early. Like....45 minutes early. I never mind, airports are good people-watching places. After about 5 minutes, a couple walked up, and the guy got on the phone. The girl sat there for the next 30 minutes by herself while he yammered on and on and ON. He didn't walk up and down the concourse, no, he stayed right there in one spot, going on and on in a monotone voice that after 10 minutes had me wanting to climb the walls. It was a chat, not a business call, and the only reason he stopped was to board the plane. On and on and on, in an over-loud, monotonous tone. I just don't get it. I believe he falls into the self-important, let-everyone-hear-my-business category. SO RUDE. The girl amused herself the whole time by going to the ladies room, getting a coffee, etc. Anything to kill time until it was time to board the plane.

    September 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
    • Martin

      I got you beat. I was at an aort about six months ago – I agree they are GREAT places to watch and meet people – while I was waiting for my flight, there was a family of four that were going on vacation – I talked to the mother for a little while and found out they were all leaving for Hawaii.

      They were ALL on their cell phones – mother, father, and teenage daughter and teenage kids. When I asked the mother what they were all doing, she responded "oh, we're just texting each other".

      Whatever happened to families TALKING to each other, especially on vacation when you're all sitting next to one another?

      September 11, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
      • Tracy

        Martin, you reminded me of something from years ago! I used to help run sci-fi conventions, and one time there was a father, mother and child dressed in Star Trek costumes who walked around having all their conversations via "communicator". I wonder if this family was the son, all grown up, with kids of his own? ;)

        September 11, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
  50. Kate Mae

    I asked to be moved to another table.

    September 11, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
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