I’m sure we’ve all been there, travelling somewhere on a train only to have our peace shattered by a loud one-sided mobile telephone conversation! Unfortunately, it’s not just on the train that these one-sided conversations interrupt our daily life! Even just walking down a street someone will be shouting into their phone. Or sitting in a café, bar or restaurant.
These conversations can be annoying. Very annoying. It’s not that we want to listen to their conversation; it’s just that more often than not, we aren’t given a choice. Some people just don’t seem to realise that their mobile phone is a clever device which ‘throws’ their voice from one location to another. A bit like a ventriloquist and their dummy. Except the dummy in this case is the person speaking! When using the phone on the train, they always think the person on the other end is deaf, and decide to talk even louder into their mobiles than they would if the other person was sitting opposite them.
And with all the background noise on a train, it is highly likely that if the conversation was held at a normal conversation volume, the person on the other end of the phone has a better chance of hearing it than a person sitting opposite in the carriage.
So why do these people insist on shouting? Some people seem to automatically shout when they use a phone of any sort. It doesn’t have to be a mobile they just presume they need to raise their voice in order for it to carry to the other end.
I can imagine this is how people first reacted towards the end of the nineteenth century when the telephone was invented. This would have been understandable as it was so new to everyone. Imagine being told you could hold something in front of your mouth and speak into it only for someone in another room to be able to hear you by holding something up to their ear!
And it must have been mind blowing to later discover you could talk into that same mouth piece and someone in a different country could hear you. Now that would induce shouting!
Of course, some people go to the other extreme, talking quietly and covering their mouth with their other hand which is not holding the mobile. I’m guessing this is so that no one can lip read their conversation – because we are all experts at lip reading aren’t we! Or maybe they feel the need to deflect their voice down to the little hole at the bottom of the phone to help it pick up the sound.
And I’m not even going to mention the people that walk around with their hands free device stuck in their ears looking like Uhura from the original series of Star Trek!
Recently a university decided to do a study about half-heard mobile phone conversations, or ‘halfalogues’ as they liked to call them!
Why? I hear you screaming at this web page!
Well, that is a good question. Apparently, the university wanted to know whether these ‘halfalogues’ were not only annoying, but also reduced our ability to concentrate. So, they got together some ‘study’ volunteers and asked them to carry out attention-heavy tasks whilst listening to a recording of one half of a conversation. And what were these attention-heavy tasks? Following a moving dot around a computer screen!
The volunteer’s performance at following this dot was greatly reduced when hearing only one side of a conversation compared to that of carrying out the same task when hearing the full conversation.
I’m glad we cleared that up!
But what does it all mean?
Well, apparently, this has implications on drivers. It is already proven (allegedly) that a driver’s performance is lower when talking on a mobile phone and driving compared to that of their performance when listening to music or talking with a fellow passenger whilst driving.
And this new study now suggests that a driver’s performance will be impaired if it is their passenger who is talking on a mobile phone.
Does this mean we could face a total ban on mobile use in the car?
You probably think I’m making all this up don’t you? You’re checking the calendar to see whether it is April 1st. But it’s all true, I kid you not.
This is a genuine study done by a genuine university. Still doubt me? Then check on their website – it’s Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, US of A.
Only in America! 😉