It looks like politicians worldwide have decided to step in to try to stop rude mobile phone behavior. Just after we pointed to US politicians looking to ban
the (already banned) use of mobile phones on airplanes, the mayor of the Austrian city of Graz, has said that commuters must switch their mobile phones to silent mode on public transportation
. From the sound of it, this isn't so much a law, as a voluntary suggestion. The mayor says that police won't be going after anyone who fails to follow the rule. It's a little unclear from the AP article whether or not this is only supposed to prevent phones from ringing
or if it's also meant to keep people from talking on the phone as well. Either way, it's unlikely to work. As the article also notes, Sweden recently did away with special "cell phone free" zones on public transportation because "it didn't really work." Meanwhile, New York City had pushed for mobile phone etiquette laws
years ago, but it's not clear if it's ever enforced.
This does raise some interesting questions. Clearly, plenty of people are quite annoyed by the way others use mobile phones in public. In fact, there was an amusing study a few years back that showed nearly everyone gets annoyed at others
for rude phone behavior, but when asked about their own behavior insist that they are never a problem
. However, it does seem that even when people recognize the rudeness of others on mobile phones, if they're told to stop using their own mobile phone, it sets off a bit of mobile rage
from people who feel unfairly restricted. I used to think that rude behavior on mobile phones was mostly due to people who were mobile phone "newbies" and didn't quite realize that there were better ways to use the phone, but that doesn't
seem to be the case either.
So, is there a solution? Do we need laws to stop people from "rude" mobile phone behavior? Would they even work? Would education about mobile phone etiquette work instead? Or, should we all just learn to deal with the fact that sometimes, when we go out, there will be mobile phones ringing and people talking on them? My guess is that that last scenario (i.e., we just get used to the way it is) is most likely.