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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, August 9, 2001

Cell phones are great but watch the noise

It's a good bet that few of us would feel free to stand on a street corner and bellow to the world about our personal business, our gossip or our dinner plans.

And it's equally unlikely that we'd be willing to sit in a restaurant and forcefully broadcast our personal business to everyone at surrounding tables.

But put a cell phone in our hands and somehow that good sense flies out the window.

This isn't a new issue, but it is becoming an increasingly obnoxious one: People don't have the slightest idea of how to observe cellphone etiquette.

True, rude behavior is far from the first concern as portable cell phones become more common. The most important immediate issue is safety, particularly the safety issue surrounding the use of cell phones by those who are driving a vehicle.

But getting people to be sensitive to others when using their telephones in offices, restaurants, theaters and on the street is simply a matter of manners and common sense.

For starters, this technology is pretty good. If you must make a call when others are trying to watch a movie or have a conversation, there is no need to bellow. A quiet voice will work just fine.

Better yet, if the call is important enough to interrupt a meeting, a movie or a dinner, it is important enough to be made in private. Excuse yourself and go to the lobby or a quiet corner for that all-important conversation.

The portable cell phone is a wonderful invention that has created a brave new world of convenience and safety. But like any new invention, it has its downside. The technology is neutral; it is the humans who use it who are in need of upgrading.