Thursday, July 17, 2008

Too much information

Darlene's post over at Larvatus Prodeo this morning about the perils of public transport (complete with fetching photo of chocolate sardines, a conceit that always makes me laugh though for the life of me I can never precisely locate teh funny; possibly it's the trompe-l'oeil aspect) has got me thinking about the way people talk on the phone in public.

When mobile phones first began to find their way into common use, anyone talking loudly on one in a public place was probably still suffering from the residual notion that the person on the other end couldn't possibly really hear them and therefore they needed to shout. It quickly became more a matter of 'Look at moy, look at moy, I haz gadjit!'

Since pretty much everyone now has one and is used to the way it works, one would think the loud talking to intimates about private matters -- sex, money, daily-life details that could not possibly be of any interest except to those immediately affected; a malfunctioning toilet, say, or an outbreak of ringworm at kindy -- would be a thing of the past. But it actually seems to have got worse. Darlene tells the story of a young woman yelling in a rage at her mother on the tram and for some reason I found this quite disturbing. The idea that it's perfectly okay to go ballistic in public, assuming you are a person over six years old of normal-range intelligence who is not drunk or on drugs, is one I'm old enough to be still repelled by.

I think the loud-talking-on-the-mobile thing is still something to do with showing off, but has morphed into a kind of exhibitionism about one's emotional life. Look at moy, look at moy, I haz intimates. People self-dramatise and self-expose in Jerry Springer mode on the phone to their friends, lovers, parents and children as a way of advertising, in a tram or train or waiting room full of random strangers -- some holding pen or other of public life -- that they have a life. What I don't understand is the need to do such a thing and force it on the attention of said random strangers, especially at football-stadium pitch.

If people want to conduct their most intimate relationships in public then that's fine as long as I don't have to look at or listen to them. But what always floors me is their oblivion to how appallingly intrusive their conversations are on other people's lives and thoughts and frames of mind. Or is that the point? Is this actually just attention-getting behaviour of the toddler kind?


Anonymous said...

I was in the doctor's surgery the other day, and the woman opposite me rang a friend? relative? and started to talk loudly about her miscarriage and what she treatment she was having next. At one point, she was crying. The waiting room was full of other people all looking out the window or at the roof, obviously wishing they were elsewhere.

I found this very uncomfortable: how could she effectively announce something like this to the room at large, something that's so personal and devastating? I'm all for being open about such issues with one's friends and family if one wants to be open...but complete strangers?

So yes, people behave strangely on mobile phones, as if they are not surrounded by a mass of strangers.

Legal Eagle

Darlene said...

The attention seeking thing is an important part, although some folks just have no concept of privacy or acceptable behaviour. Some people have poor impulse control as well.

I was standing right next to this young woman (it was a packed tram). She was sitting down to my left. Somebody tripped over her bag and she apologised. She had such a small timid voice at this stage. They didn't respond to her apology. She looked really sad and angry and anxious. She was drinking Coke. Her mother called. Now, most of us would say, I can't talk now mum, I'll call you when I get home. She didn't.

The conversation with her mother got louder and louder to the point where she was suggesting that she was going to commit a violent act against her brother in retaliation for certain acts her brother had apparently committed against her (she said she was having flashbacks about those acts).

Perhaps she feels nobody is listening to her. Perhaps she's depressed. Perhaps she's got a real reason to feel anger at her brother.

The conversation ended with her mum agreeing to see her the next day.

She continued to look angry and swig at her Coke after it the phone conversation was over.

I think there are a range of issues related to this matter. For example:

1) Do people who behave in such ways on public transport realise that some people become afraid or anxious by displays of physical or verbal anger? That by trying to deal with their own difficulties, they're hurting others (who've got nothing to do with their problems).

2) Do people who behave in such ways on public transport realise that some people who are in the vicinity might've been victims of violence and verbal abuse?

3) Why do some people have people have such poor impulse control?

Actually, the worse case I've seen wasn't on public transport or to do with a mobile phone. It involved a young woman who had a row with her dad at the shops. He walked off. She was screaming at her daughters to go and get him. The little girls were crying in a really crying from the gut way. She turned to look at the people waiting at the tram stop and then let out a series of expletives at us. So others became part of the drama.

Lefty E said...

It's been a boon to schizophrenics; especially since the hands-free. Its no longer socially unacceptable, or even unusual to be talking to yourself in public.

Bernice said...

I'd agree that some of this behaviour is Look at meee, look at meee... but I've also wondered if it isn't also about the intimacy of conversation, the power still of oral communication - the conversation itself demarcates the social space that is occupied rather than the physical.
My "fav" are the souls who take their partner/family member/housemate virtually shopping with them - phone to ear, "do we want the 250g or 375g vegemite?" I usually suggest the 375g, and then recommend the Fairtrade Orange Pekoe in aisle 5. Well, they did ask.

Ann O'Dyne aka Dysthymiac said...

oh yes Bernice - the shopping collaboration calls!

My favourite Public Transport thing is to pre-empt the person when their phone rings, by saying, right after they have said Hello?

"I'm on the train/bus/tram" !!! bwah ha ha suffer in ya jocks

Ann O'Dyne aka Dysthymiac said...

oh and PS Bernice - the worst supermarket people are those who continue to speak on their mobile WHILE going through the checkout process, completely cutting out the checker.

Anna said...

Once again Rotsheld risks to wake up tied without paints, his children robbed poisoned and they would even be forced to prove that they are his children. Who is that freak? Where is my own father and where is his property and finances? I was treated in a very similair way. I also was robbed, forced to be at line of poorness. One and the same scheme was used. Is my own father so bad man? Or someone owed him very much? May be many people became trustees of my inherited assets, and yet used to think my inheritage theres? Where is my own father? And where are his assets and money? For such a complex operation with my finances they must have had someone's help and support. Who helped them? Who devided and took my money?

I am the daughter of the man,whose face is identical to Joann Paul II. In Italy he is known as Tata Giovanni (Father Giovanni) .He lived in Rome and worked in the USA. I lived with adopting family in Yekaterinburg in the place of killing Royal Romanov family. Why? Who from my own family is a queen? My own grandmother? Or what does it means? Address was Moskowskaya street 9-31. In Moskovskaya street 9-20 lives Hussein family with daughter Aleksandra. My real name is Anna-Kristina-Aleksandra. What does it means? Who fined that information?Who really have aggression against Muslims countries and against Iraq and Hussein? I know that my own grandfather Naum was Muslims friend. And when he invest his money in Russia he took gold as financial guarantee. May be in Iraq and near Hussein my enemies searching that gold? I know that everything my relatives had they left as inheritage to me. I need to find, who has management of it in his hands, and which is the state of property and assets. I don,t know how my identity could be hidden, because I have unique right leg, which was disfigured from birth. This is my unique sign, nobody could be mistaken normally in my identification. Business of my own grandfather was oil and gas, casino and hotels of Las-Vegas. Own father too. During 10 years I was under strong financial pressing. And lived with my younger son for 60 dollars per month. Who became a manager and do that? Since October of 2001 till 2007 all the force of repressing machine was put on us. I have savage fascism in Lithuania in my own flat and in my own life and life of my son. We came out of there on our four. We have total control. Causes - multi billion assets in-heritage from my own relatives. Since 1993 year I was pressed financially at first, I lives with my son and we have 60-100$ for month. And even it is well known that a person is dead without money, my attackers didn’t stop - since 2001 year I had seven savage attacks on me on a territory of Lithuania - was poisoned with HCl, toxicoids,I was systematically trivially beaten, I had a traffic accident - was hit by a car on the pedestrians on green light for me, poisoned with hallucinogens and with my son pushed out to bogs in winter, where we have spent 3 nights. Those attacks started 3 weeks after twin-towers in the USA were ruined. They were ruined in 11.09.2001. I was born in 11.06 - month of twins-Gemini. More, the only citizen of Lithuania died in that crush, who was constantly living and working in the USA in twin-towers Jelena-Helen Gavriushina-Melnichenko - her mother was director of the school my children got education. Director of the school Gavriushina was born 6th of June. I have a friend in my childhood. Vladimir Vladimirovich Gaper. He was born 6th of June. Who is that friend? Everybody knows one Vladimir Vladimirovich, but he wasn’t born at the 6th of June. Putin is a friend of Kerkorian? Who is that my friend born 6th of June? I found that one. In the USA in Las Vegas. Kerkor Kerkorian. After reading his biography I saw that his owned MGM hotel, casino blown 21.11.1980. Interesting, that all those digits are digits of mine and my children’s dates of birth. More, even ID’s are the same. That friend was my own father’s and own grandfather’s manager? Why then the property wasn’t returned to me? Interesting that Bill Clinton had a nickname fly. After exact translating to Russian this mean to fly - as a pilot, a flyer. Manager was a pilot, a flyer. Why Bill Clinton, you ask?If bill - is billion, who clean’t billions then? Do you remember what is Bill Clinton wife’s name? Hillary Clinton. What is hillary clinton? Hi-Larry-Cleaner. Hello, Larisa who got in fly and cleaned… understand, yes? Monica Lewinski came into cabinet in White House at 28 of february 1997. Adopting family’s son Sergey Lopatinskiy was born 28 of February. Who knows what does it mean? In 10 June of 2006 in Diana,s Spencer family house resident of Russian special services Aleksandr Lebedev organized a meeting to memorize death of Raisa Gorbacheva. Michail,s Gorbachev wife died 20 09 1999. But 11.06.2006 I celebrated my 50 anniversary. It means all the strange recollecting organized just before my birthday. Why? How it is connected with the fact that 9 months before Raisa Gorbacheva died, 20.12.1998 died Jevgenij Bondarenko-son of Natalia Bondarenko who became also Lopatinska,ja after getting married with my adopting brother. It is she who is used to get my money without me to agree nor accept. Who helped her? Bush, Primakov visiting Lithuania they organized “accidental” meetings with me and my son. First used his security officers, second by himself. 11.03.2008 Poland visited Hosni Said Mubarak. 14.03.2008 we were proposed to leave Poland. We were getting by auto-stop in Italy. As well as we arrived to Italy, to Italy came Putin, who visited Poland and came to Berlusconi.Some years ago Berlusconi became Prime Minister 11.06.2001.In my birthday. What does it means? They have my money and business? They robbed me? They were so poor that needed my finances and my incomes? We live with son at street wearing some floor clothes. Was my father such a bad person? Is he blackmailed in such a way? Where is he now? Multiple applying to Silvio Berlusconi does nothing. What could be this person whom in my childhood I know as Silvia in Italy - my “mother” with wig and with man,s cigarettes, and which I must find if I need a defense and help? I know that part of finances former soviet agents transferred to someone in England. Queen Elizabeth and her husband visited to Lithuania (16.10.2006-18.10.2006)Jan Paul II became Pope in Rome 16.10.78. What Elizabeth and her husband need from me? After theres visit 21.10.2006 Hubertas Grusnys was killed, he was owner of radio stations and Lithuanian millionaire, whose radio Lietus a week before told about poisoning with toxicoids me and my son in our flat. In Lithuania for my financing and living my own father gave 10% shares of AO LUKOIL company to the oil company AB MAZEIKU NAFTA. For my financing in Lithuania responsible A.Brazauskas, B.Lubys (as everybody know Mr. Lubys is a friend of Mr. Nazarbajev), G.Chapanidze, V.Shkil. Mr. G.Chapanidze is in jail since 1996-1997. I was not financed at all. And didn,t ask nobody to sale or to present my finances or shares to anybody. I know that there are most of assets, which didn’t get in hands of those who robbed me. May be Mr. Alekperov knows what does it mean? In 19.8.1995 in Omsk died someone Ivan (Jan,Giovanni, Ioann) Lickevich. Do you know what does Lickevich means in polish? This is translated as calculate. What and whom calculated Lickevich?Ivan Lickevich was the director of the Omsk oil rafinery. In 3.7.2000 died with his son Gediminas Kesus.They are killed both. Gediminas Kesus was the director of the Mazeiku oil rafinery.When he was killed in Lithuanian newspapers was published information – some documents Gediminas Kesus put into some England bank. What the documents it was? Who started to kill the directors of oil rafineries and started putting the money into his own pockets? My money.In such way Lukoil go for another hands.Rats hands.
Another savage attack against me began 20.10.2002 – 23.10.2002. In 23.10.2002 - 26.10.2002 there was Nord-Ost in Moscow. My son and I had the same diagnosis as victims of Nord-Ost. Who do it? I have personal individual characteristic by which I can be easily identified - my right leg was disfigured while my mother was pregnant, and I was born with unique diagnosis. After many specific medical operations, my leg became passport, which couldn,t be forged. I demand to change my managers and carers, and I look for a country which could accept me and defend me.

kris said...

I agree that there has been some kind of break down between public and private behaviours... (Gawd that sounds so Edwardian of me) A great Canberra pastime is to spend a few minutes waiting for a bus at the Civic interchange where you get to see all manner of strange behaviors... It certainly does give you the impression that certain groups are proud of their ability disgust and intimidate those around them.

Nababkov said...

Anna, I think the person you're talking to has hung up.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Oh, my.

I don't know which would be the more dangerous: delete that or leave it there. I wonder if Bernice's comment was some kind of trigger.

docwitch said...

Don't know if these intrusive mobile antics have become socially acceptable. I'm such an intolerant, impatient piece of baggage these days, I can't help but groan loudly whenever someone talks loudly on their mobile on PT, (or outside my office, but that's beside the point. Maybe this is why I'm so intolerant though).

These buffoons often prompt a chorus of sighs, eye-rolling, and/or derisive snorts from other passengers, directed at the 'offender', (who is usually oblivious to other people and their responses anyway).

It's a trivial solidarity of sorts. A pity this spirit doesn't emerge more when those bullying fascist Melb Met ticket inspectors get on, and manage to divide and conquer with their own obnoxiousness. We're generally a placid, too-polite lot in all the wrong places.

Pen said...

Who knew that you could have intrusive comments in quite the same way? I shall boggle.

I think people just genuinely forget that others can hear, and indeed can't help hearing. Young women on the bus are constantly talking very loudly about the most intimate details of their weekends, whether on mobile phones or sitting next to each other. I suspect they don't think the rest of us can comprehend what they are talking about because we are too old, too young or too not them. Or just that they are so involved in the moment that they forget where they are. Lucky, lucky them if so.

Shaun said...

When I used to commute regularly on the train I head all sorts of conversations.

I don't know if it is a "look at mee" but more of a failure to forget that they are in public.

I've always thought there should be the following law. That anyone having mobile phone conversation on a train or bus must put it on speaker phone and other passengers are free to join in and offer advice.

Helen said...

I never thought I'd say this about a spamblogger, but I thought "anna"'s "contribution" was hilarious and very apt. (And unlike trolls, I'm not encouraging "her" by saying so!)

Pavlov's Cat said...

Agreed that it was extraordinarily apt, but I don't think it was a joke, unfortunately. If it wasn't genuine, then whoever wrote it should be making a fortune writing brilliant TV ads (or a pittance writing literary fiction). This exact comment also turned up another thread here. I found it sinister on several counts.

bernice said...

Alas my spammers are never quite so weirdly interesting - I seem to require many genuine Rolex copies & pills. Lots and lots of pills. Anna reads rather like a babel translation. Curious.

Helen said...

No, nothing sinister, it's just a random spambot I think - unless you can see something else in your moderation queue to make you think it's something worse. These spambot rants often remind me of pastiches, like, say Ern Malley and things like that.

Kate H said...

I've been guilty of carrying on personal conversations on public transport on my mobile (usually as it is someone who rings who I've been trying to catch up with for ages or somesuch) but I always try to speak quietly, if that counts for anything, if I can't get away quickly enough.

I guess my question is - how is this different from two people on a train/bus/in the park etc carrying on a conversation? Why is more offensive when someone is on the phone? Like most (middle class Anglo) people I find loud, overt displays of any sort of emotion deeply uncomfortable and I have to admit I find listening to someone's overly-shary phone chat no less embarrassing than an overly-shary conversation. But maybe that is just an artefact of being of an age to have had a mobile my entire adult life...

BTW that comment is spam, a quick google showed it posted to several random blogs around the way that seem completely unconnected.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Don't get me wrong, Kate -- my objection is not to the mobile conversation as such, but to the inappropriate volume and complete disregard for surroundings and company. It's like people who answer their mobiles in the library, haveing ignored all the big signs saying PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONE, and then proceed to have a long conversation with the caller at something slightly louder than normal conversational pitch. It's not about the phone qua phone, but rather about forcing total strangers into the orbit of your conversation when they cannot get away. Sorry, I was thinking this through as I was writing it and not explaining clearly what it is that disturbs me.

I'm sure, for example, that you'd never have a personal conversation about your latest miscarriage treatment, at normal pitch, complete with crying, with a person you were actually sitting next to in a doctor's waiting room full of total strangers.

The generational point is interesting -- we do indeed live in an age where there is instant and total public confessional from everyone, the models being Oprah and Jerry Springer and the trash mags and so forth, plus an educational background of being told from kindy upwards that the most important thing is to Be Creative and Express Yourself, which was after my time (though not by much). But I'm of an age to be resistant to it, I guess -- I wish people would express themselves a little less. As the great New York humorist Fran Leibovitz once said, 'Spilling your guts is just exactly as charming as it sounds.'

(That said, my father, who is 81, regards it as hypocritical not to say exactly what he is thinking and feeling at any given time, regardless of how it might be received by any or all of the unfortunates within range.)

TX for spam info -- I don't understand how/why/by what these things get generated. Especially something like that. It makes too much of an insane kind of sense for my liking.

Anonymous said...

This public mega-phoning caper seems to be a necessity for the narcissistic and vaingloriously selfish, cheap therapy for those too poor to afford a pro gut-spillee, and a reaching out by lonely social malapropes to anybody else in earshot who they hope, however fleetingly, might actually give a toss about them.
Oh yes, and tradesmen ordering parts, and blokes talking to their mates about the footy.
Maybe for some people the subtlety of the technology is lost due to 3 million-odd years of simian evolution. If the homined with whom one wishes to communicate is not immediately adjacent, then of course one has to shout to be heard.
The advent of cell phones has simply “progressed” the phenomenon into the public arena. Perhaps this is the reason it has become more of a nuisance. In the days of Bakerlite hand-sets this sort of thing was confined to home and office.