We're Still Cultural Nitwits When It Comes To Cell Phone Etiquette And Enforcement

from the slow-learners dept

Apparently we're still rather idiotically feeling out the boundaries of cell phone etiquette and common sense after decades of cellular phone experience. Last week a Broadway play attendee nonchalantly climbed on stage before a production of Hand of God to use the set's (inoperable and quite fake) power outlet. When tracked down by one news outlet, the man proudly proclaimed that he was drunk, and that he needed to charge his phone just then because "girls were calling all day. What would you do?" There's a video of said nitwit's public apology to the theater community making the rounds.

We're apparently not much better when it comes to enforcing cell phone etiquette. A week later, Actor Patti LuPone broke proscenium and ripped a cell phone out of a theater attendee's hands after the audience member wouldn't stop texting during a performance. LuPone issued a statement shortly thereafter suggesting that idiots without etiquette have forced her hand in the matter, and she's not thrilled to be forced into the role of audience baby sitter:
We work hard on stage to create a world that is being totally destroyed by a few, rude, self-absorbed and inconsiderate audience members who are controlled by their phones. They cannot put them down. When a phone goes off or when a LED screen can be seen in the dark it ruins the experience for everyone else - the majority of the audience at that performance and the actors on stage. I am so defeated by this issue that I seriously question whether I want to work on stage anymore. Now I’m putting battle gear on over my costume to marshall the audience as well as perform.
Across the pond, police have shown they're still learning the lines of cell phone etiquette as well, after UK Transit police had to walk back a recent decision to arrest a 45-year-old man for "abstracting electricity" by charging his iPhone via a train power outlet:
"She said I’m abstracting electricity. She kept saying it’s a crime. We were just coming into the station and there happened to be about four police officers on the platform.

"She called to them and said: 'This guy’s been abstracting electricity, he needs to be arrested'."
Some Internet forum users state that the outlets are generally reserved for cleaning the trains, and often feature stickers stating "not for public use." Still, if transit authorities don't want people using the outlets, it makes sense to make them less accessible. The law in question is also pretty clearly focused on cheating utility meters and is reserved for "high value" theft where the victim faces "substantial loss," making the case a bit of a tough sell. As a result, the police subsequently "de-arrested" the man after realizing that they were "abstracting" common sense from their daily enforcement practices:
"We were called to Camden Road London Overground station on Friday 10 July to a report of a man becoming aggressive when challenged by a PCSO about his use of a plug socket onboard an Overground train."

"Shortly after 3.30pm, a 45-year-old man from Islington was arrested on suspicion of abstracting electricity, for which he was de-arrested shortly after. He was further arrested for unacceptable behaviour and has been reported for this offence."
Given that Motorola researcher Martin Cooper designed the first cell phone back in 1973, you'd think that after 42 years of experience with the devices we'd be a little better at understanding the socially-acceptable norms for using them -- and preventing their use. Of course given that people still talk in movie theaters, often don't pay attention to what their kids are doing, and frequently treat one another abysmally, that inconsiderate boneheadedness certainly isn't the fault of the technology.

Filed Under: abstracting energy, charging, etiquette, mobile phones

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 15 Jul 2015 @ 6:58pm


    I rely on my cell phone all the time for internet access on the go.

    I'm also aware enough to turn off both sound and hotspot when I'm at an engagement.

    Also, due to a coffee accident a year ago, the speaker is very quiet, so I tend not to rely on sounds for alerts anyway.

    It's possible to have a phone, and to exercise consideration while using it, just as it is possible to have a car or (more related) a pager and exercise consideration in its use.

    It's not about the phone. It's about the people being impolite apes.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.