April 14, 2005

Fake cellphone talking.

There are so many reasons to pretend to be talking to someone on your cellphone. Just think about it a little and you'll get many ideas!
But James E. Katz, a professor of communication at Rutgers University, says his classroom research suggests that plenty of the people talking on the phone around you are really faking it. In one survey Dr. Katz conducted, more than a quarter of his students said they made fake calls. He found the number hard to believe. Then in another class 27 of 29 students said they did it.

"People are turning the technology on its head," Dr. Katz said. "They are taking a device that was designed to talk to people who are far away and using it to communicate with people who are directly around them."

Brilliant! But now that we know people are doing this, it's time for us to start calling their bluff: You aren't really talking to anyone are you? You're trying to say something to me, aren't you? Well, why don't you just say it directly?

Of course, anyone who blogs can't be too critical of people who opt for indirect modes of communication. And in fact, I'm not critical. I think it is a good way to express yourself diplomatically. The person in line in front of you is taking too long with a transaction? I'm sorry, honey, I will be home just as soon as I can... Yes, the Band-Aids are in the medicine cabinet.


Gerry said...

A woman finding merit in methods of indirect communication?! Inconceivable!

FreakinRican said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who does this. However, it is embarassing when the phone rings while you are "talking" to someone on the other end.

price said...

hey, indirect communication works for non-women like me too. everything seems more mysterious and subtle when there's no obvious confrontation. anyway, this cell phone method also works really well with avoiding panhandlers. they seem to respect it when people are on the phone, but--strangely enough--not when they have headphones on.

Abraham said...

This kind of "communication" is very irritating. It is the worst kind of passive-aggressiveness. It's really a way to be able to publicly chastise another person without their being able to respond in a polite way. It should not be encouraged!

tee bee said...

I did call their bluff when two young men sat on either side of me on a bench in the quad and began talking. I was trying to read, so their conversations were distracting, and I noticed pretty quickly that they were talking with each other, which made me suspicious. When one asked the other what he was doing, and the other began to describe sitting next to me in crude terms, I yelled at them both that that was rude and they'd better knock it off. They both jumped up and left.

Within a few minutes, six students came out with a boom box, set themselves up in the middle of the break rush and began doing aerobics together. I figure they were all fulfilling a "push the envelop of behavior" sociology assignment, since a number of the soc and psych classes are held in that wing.

Ann Althouse said...

freakinrican: Funny! Why don't you just call your own home answering machine? As a bonus, you can listen to your own performance and judge the quality of your acting.

abraham: you're right that it's passive aggressive a lot of the time, but it could also be turned to the good.

tee bee: do they still do psychology experiment in college? I remember that being exasperatingly old circa 1970.

tee bee said...

de riguer, the soc students told me. not to mention how hard it was to do anything original, so the cellphonies (I love that term) probably received a pretty good grade.

FreakinRican said...

Thanks for the tip about calling my own answering maching and judging my performance. I'm not sure if I would be more Paula Abdul or Simon Cowell but at least two things would be accomplished: I wouldn't have to talk to people I didn't want to talk to, and I would feel popular when I got home later because I have a message waiting for me.

katiebakes said...

When I am walking somewhere alone and feel like the situation is a little shady, I pretend to talk on my cell phone.

I feel like it makes me a less likely target for any sort of violence, because as soon as anyone approached me the person on the other end would know I was in trouble right away.

Some people would say that talking on a phone makes you unaware of your surroundings and therefore a more likely target.

I see both points and am not sure which I believe more. But I always feel comfortable pretending to have a conversation. It can be really fun! Lots of good gossip to share with yourself.