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?