Jamming Those Pesky Cell Phones

At lunch today, there was a very popular lady sitting at the next table. I know she is popular because her cell phone rang about every 3 minutes. She’s also deaf. I know that because every time it rang, the rest of us dove under our tables, mistaking her insanely loud cell phone ring for a civil defense warning.

While I was irritated that this lady couldn’t turn her phone off or put it in silent mode for the 45 minutes it took her to eat lunch, I can’t support any effort to ban or jam cell phones.

Why? Because I am a parent. And because any legislation would likely substitute one problem for another. And because the restaurant and movie industries, which are desperately trying to draw customers to restaurants and theaters, probably wouldn’t enforce the law anyway.

Yes, it aggravates me when somebody’s cell phone rings off the imaginary hook at a restaurant or a movie. And yes, there are a lot of people who think (or more likely want us to think) they’re too crucial to the wheels of commerce to be off the grid for a hour (most of them like to wear sunglasses inside too). But notwithstanding those inconsiderate and insecure folks, there is a legitimate need to be reachable when you’re out at dinner and a movie.

Rather than ban or jam cell phones, establishments should develop and publish cell phone policies. The easy one is to require that all cell phones be put on silent mode during a movie and that anyone who wants to take a call must first go to the lobby. If someone really needs to tell someone something in the middle of a movie, send them a text message that does not disturb others.

If someone needs to talk to me, I want them to be able to reach me. It’s up to me, and every other right thinking person, to decide who really needs to talk to me now or who can wait an hour or two. And it’s up to me to take calls I need to take in a way that doesn’t disturb the people in the next row or at the next table.

The way to get there is via uniformly enforced cell phone policies and societal pressure- not via cell phone jamming and legislation.