Saturday, July 21, 2007

High-Tech Manners

Earlier this month, CNN's Amy Cox wrote a piece called Where are your high-tech manners?, which explores generational differences in how people tolerate media-aided transformation of public spaces into private enclaves. Although she's citing research from last year, her article still resonates.

Cox cites a study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project that compares experiences with the "icy glare" warranted by inappropriate mobile phone use: "In the Pew study, about 14 percent of people ages 18-29 drew criticism or dirty looks for the way they used their cell phone in public, compared to the 8 percent of respondents of all ages" (para. 15).

Cox also quotes University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism and mass communication professor Lewis Friedland, who describes a high-tech "cone of silence," a placeless enclave created by personal entertainment and communications devices:
"People act as if they're walking through life in a cone of silence in which only they and the other person on the end of the line can hear them," he says. "They can talk quite loudly, and they can talk about things that people around them don't really want to hear about." (para. 8)
After reading this article, I hope that more people who talk loudly on mobile devices will consider posting their explanations for this behavior on Why Do You Do That?.

I also invite your comments about an entry I posted in May: Mobile Phone Etiquette.

Learn More

Pew Internet & American Life Project, April 3, 2006: How Americans use their cell phones. Here's an excerpt: 
It is now possible to be sitting on a train or walking through a park and hear some of the most intimate details of strangers' lives because of the way they are chatting on their cells. To a great many people, this comes as an unwelcome consequence of their use of a mobile phone. Cell phones are blurring the boundaries between what is public and what is private. (p. 11)

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