Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My New Pet Peeve: Cell Phone Abuse at Cons

At the Emerald City Comicon a couple of weekends ago, I noticed a disturbing trend. I couldn’t believe how many people were talking on their cell phones or text messaging rather then living in the moment of the show. It wasn’t that cell phones were being used that bothered me- it was the context of the conversations and the fact that the people using them were walking through crowded aisles not paying attention to where they were going. It also annoyed me when people getting books signed were talking on their phones rather then talking to the creator, or vice versa. There is a time and a place for cell phones, and I think they are used frequently for the wrong reasons. Attending the convention just solidified my opinion. Let me explain.

I am old enough to have lived in a time when cell phones were not an everyday item. Scary, I know. Growing up on a farm, my dad would take us out to a field, put us on a tractor, and head out to the next field over to cut some hay. He had faith in God that things would be alright, and mostly it was fine. The downside was when equipment would break down and he wouldn’t find out for hours, while I sat and used my imagination to dream up tales of super heroes to while away the time. But I digress.

I appreciate the cell phone as a very good communication tool. It is convenient and it makes me feel secure when I am traveling long distances alone. If I breakdown, I can contact someone. If I am running late, I can tell the person I am meeting so they don’t worry. It is also an excellent tool for business. My sales people can call in their orders from several hundred miles away and we get them shipped that day.


Let’s face it. Cell phones are used in place of real face time so often nowadays that it is unreal. Let me give some examples I saw at the convention of extreme cases.

1. I saw a girl text messaging her friend who was two chairs away rather then talking. What the hell is that about? They were writing each other on their phones and giggling hysterically. There was no one between them. Is this a new secret code I don’t understand?

2. I went to get some books signed and a “nameless” creator was so busy working on his Blackberry that he didn’t look up and acknowledge me at all. What a bunch of crap. I wish I would have ripped his books up. I still might out of spite.

3. I heard a guy telling a friend on the phone how much the show sucked and how bored he was in one breath while changing gears and saying he was “psyched” to meet Bendis in the next one. Why not wait until after the show to make these calls?

4. I almost got ran into or pushed on at least FIVE separate occasions by people not paying attention to where they were going while walking and talking on their cell phones. That was the kicker that really pissed me off.

Now understand, I think that cell phones are a good tool for a convention in certain instances. I used my phone to call my husband on the show floor to come spell me in the booth so I could take a bathroom break. In another instance, my husband called me and told me to come to the booth so I could meet a friend. Our calls were brief and to the point. Cell phones really helped us in this instance.
What I don’t agree with is using phones to take the place of face-to-face communication in today’s society. I prefer to talk to a person so I can see their facial expressions and body language. If I can’t see the person, I will talk on the phone. Only as a last resort will I ever text message someone. To me it is very impersonal and a cop-out.

It also bothered me to see so many people who had booths or tables at the show using their phones, whether it be using their Blackberry, texting, or just chatting. In my mind, if you are at the show to conduct business, a cell phone is a distraction. Meeting people and promoting your product should be the focus.

So do an old lady a favor- try not to use the cell phone in place of real life experience. If you are at the show, be at the show in every aspect. Call your friends later and tell them about the things you did. Don’t do it when you could be enjoying the present. The convention will be over but the memories are what last.


Carl said...

I loathe cell phones. I have one. Emergency-only I tell everyone. Yet, in spite of it being ancient by current-cutting edge standards, they still call me and want to stay on it or text me, when I can only see 12 characters including spaces. I get, "Hey I got dr", that's it. I've almost been hit several times by other cars 'cause you know, being on the celluar nipple was so gd'd important then you know, driving safely?
The last time out in public I just wanted to commit hot-blooded murder, I was in a library bookstore. This older woman with orange hair was either looking at the books very slowly or was a voluteer. But, every few seconds, her phone would go "dut-dut-dut". And she would look, then text back, every single punch making a noise: "blet-blet-blet-blet-blet-blet-blet" And this went on again and again until she ran me out of the bookstore before I went Cro-Mag on her ass. The only good part? I was rather gratified to see our elders can join "The Rude Cellphone-Users Society", no prejudice there; all are welcome.
And while I've experienced all this at cons too, including one person arguing with someone about something that as he signs (angrily so it's a scrawl), "You tell that bitch if she thinks I'm setting for that, she's got another thing coming!" Slams the phone closed and says thanks for coming out all nice and calm again, while I think "psssssssssy-CHO!" and never want to go near the person again.
I even have a close friend that I wanted to send a high ultra-frequency soundwave through the phone like Klaw or something when he calls me and he's at the theatre while a movie is running! I was aghast! He's also called and said, I'm driving from Atlanta to Tenn, nothing's on the radio. So, you're bored and want me to entertain you?! Get Sirius sat-radio you ass, jeez! I hate cell-phones, I hate texting and I hate all the 9 million things they do, especially when someone sneaks a picture or films you without your knowledge or against you will. If they were actually not useful in emergencies and such, I put them down like the I do the internet. A helpful new tool in the Devil's arsenal...

Eaglewing said...

Good post, agree with all you said. People are using cell phones as if they are attached to their anatomy. It's annoying as hell in theatres, malls, restaurants, etc. I don't mind too much if someone is being discreet, but that's becoming increasingly rare. You have these people yakking at full volume in totally inappropriate places - not to mention these Bluetooth earpieces where you don't even know if these people are on the phone or have just lost their minds as they walk and talk (or stumble) through a crowd.

It's out of control and something should be done - what, I have no idea. But people need to realize its a tool to use with common sense. Just because it rings, beeps, or vibrates doesn't mean you have to answer it. Pay attention to what's around you first, like you said.

Lisa said...

Dang it Heidi -- I've been meaning to to a blog rant about cell phone abuse for a couple of weeks now, and here you've beat me to it. Now I'm going to have to wait a couple more weeks so it doesn't look like I'm copying you.

But I totally agree with your points. I can't tell you how many times people have walked into our store while on the phone and had their conversation in "cell phone voice" while pretending to flip thru back issues (I say pretend because they never really look like they're paying much attention to the titles), and then leave, still on the phone. Craig even saw two gals in a car, one driving the other a passenger, and they were BOTH on cell phones. We'd joked that they were talking to each other.

Carl said...

Oh, I forgot, the other day at where I work (Toys R Us) I looked and there was 3 young women in the girls section all on cell phones! It used to be you got together with family or friends TO BE TOGETHER WITH THEM 'CAUSE YOU CARED ABOUT THEM. Now, it's like, oh, I am so attachted to these other nipple-heads, I couldn't possibly stay out of contact to be with flesh and blood people with me now! You know what the cell phone has become? A pacifier and blankie for baby-people with arrested development. You ever see one with a phone that dies or has no service? It's like a horror movie moment without the serial killer (or other cliched movie menace), "THIS-- THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING!!!" and they usually start cussing like an addict having their addiction flushed down the john right in front of them. One of the claims is that cell phones 'cause brain cancer. I believe that if they do, they attack what little social graces and common sense these addicts have first. Cell phones, techno-crack for the current generation...

Unknown said...


I've been on this Earth for 46 years without an electronic leash, and I get along just fine without them.
I work in a fast-paced, hi-tech job. My employer told me I was "required" to get a cell phone as it was "necessary" to conduct business.
I refused.
Guess what happened? Nothing! I still work there, things still get done, and I'm still leash-free.

So, if the abuse of cell phones gets you down, set the example and throw yours away. You'll be amazed at how the world *doesn't* stop turning.

Kirk Jarvinen said...

I have to agree with all of your pet peeves about cell phone abuse, here are a few of mine.

I didn't want one. I only carry one now because P'la works for a cell phone company (but I'm proud to say that I held out in getting one for over 1 year before she cornered me into it:)

Text messaging. I don't want it on my phone, I mean, what a ridiculous waste of time is that?

My cell's ring tone is turned off and set to vibrate 99% of the time, because the only thing more annoying to me than hearing everyone else's obnoxious custom ring tones constantly going off all the time is having my own phone ring when I'm in public and in the middle of doing something, especially when I'm in the library.

As far as the phone usage at the Comic Cons go, here's an example of a undesirable cell phone situation I experienced while at the ECCC.

I had just excused myself from my table to pay a much needed mid-morning visit the restroom, leaving P'la there to watch the table in my absence.

In the time that it took to walk straight to the restrooms located in the back of the room, P'la called me three times to tell me that:

1)Right after I left, someone came up and wanted my signature. (I told her I to tell them I'd be right back)

2) She called me back just to tell me that they would come back--and to hurry up!!!

3)About 3 minutes pass, and she called me to say that one of the Con's Staff members came by to take my order for lunch, but because I wasn't there, he left with out it (he wouldn't take it from her because her name wasn't on the guest list).

That was Three calls in under 5 minutes--all while I'm still standing there waiting for an open stall and getting really annoyed with the cell phone ringing, because there was nothing I could do about any of that while I'm in the restroom. To top it off, P'la's attitude was becoming impatient, pressing that I needed to get back there, right now.

Was all of that really necessary? I didn't need a play by play of what was happening back at the table while I was trying to take a short restroom "break".

Like you Heidi, I have fond memories of the bygone days before all of this cell-insantity.

This year, when our group of friends was hanging out together after the ECCC show, I think we were all pretty good about not using our cells so we could enjoy being in each others company.

I still remember how much fun it was hanging out with friends after work in the late '80's because we were all living in the moment and enjoying conversing with each other without 2 or 3 of us being on the cell phone and our minds somewhere else. You appreciated your time spent with them more, without cells.

I recently was out in a similar setting at a bar and grill, and had to laugh when I noticed that there were a half of dozen young'n's at the next table--and everyone of them was on their cell phones while they were supposed to be parting with each other, lol.

BTW, I'll admit that it made it a little cooler for me having to carry a cell by thinking of it as if it were really a vintage Star Trek communicator like Captain Kirk used.

I wish more people would take note of this and the way the Enterprise crew used their communicator's sparingly in the original Star Trek series--
I mean, Scotty and Sulu weren't incessantly texting each other from their stations, Uhura used the "Bluetooth" sticking out of her ear only for Starfleet emergencies and opening hailing frequencies, McCoy wasn't bumbling around Sickbay while yakking on his communicator, and most importantly-- Mr. Spock never called Captain Kirk when he was on the can!

Tegan said...

Heh. Since we dumped our landline, we only use cell phones, but that doesn't mean I use them like some of the nuts out there! I think the only time I used the cell phone at this con was when I called my sister to ask what size t-shirt she wanted from the Unshelved guys. My phone was only on so I could be contacted if I lost my con-buddy. I did accidently turn on the MP3 player at one point, but I shut it off as soon as I figured it out.

I can't stand text messaging. I can't understand calling someone who is nearby unless you seriously can't find each other. And there is, in my opinion, nothing more rude than being on the phone while conducting business with a person in front of you, whether you are the customer or the seller.

Heidi Meeley said...

Carl my friend, tell me how you really feel. Heh heh! :-)

I see many cell phone type offenses being committed on a daily basis, and it still stuns me. The convention just solidified how horrendously out of hand it has gotten.

It is time to step back and add the personal touch back into our relationships.

Heidi Meeley said...

Eaglewing, thanks for the kind words! Cell phone usage has gotten extremely out of hand. I especially cringe when I see young drivers texting while driving. That is so dangerous, and it is becoming increasingly common. Using the phone while driving is not the best idea because it takes concentration off the road. The state of Washington is enacting a law to make it illegal to use a hand held cell phone while driving, and it is a good idea.

Today as I was working out, a guy next to me was on his bluetooth talking as loudly as possible to some other guy about his date the night before. God knows I learned more then I ever wanted to about him. It just solidified how bad things have gotten.

Unfortunately, I don't think things will get better any time soon.

Heidi Meeley said...

Lisa, I didn't mean to steal your thunder! Go ahead and post your thoughts on your blog- I am sure you will make several points I didn't think of. :-) I will take the opinion that great minds think alike on this one!

It must be so irritating to be trying to work and have customers come in and do that. I bet you have several great anectdotes. Poor girl!

I have learned way more about people I dont' know through their cell phone conversations then I ever should have.

Heidi Meeley said...

Virgin, excellent comment.

I am pretty sure I would never have gotten a cell phone if I hadn't been young and single in a new town a long time ago. My parents wanted me to have one so I could contact them at a moment's notice and it has stuck.

While I hate many things about cell phones, I do appreciate the convenience of them when I have an emergency.

Heidi Meeley said...

Kirk, you are too cool! I agree that too many people don't understand that old school "gathering for drinks" like they used to. I hate it when I go out and half the people at the table are on their phones. Why bother to show up? That is why I appreciated it when we went out and the focus was on each other. It was so much fun, and ALL of us could enjoy ourselves.

At the show I was appalled how many people were on their phones. The last thing I wanted to do was be on my phone. I wanted to interact with the people in front of me and enjoy the moment.

It is hard in today's society to not use cell phones as a crutch. I have fallen prey from time to time, calling Jim from my car just to say "hi". I try not to, because it is just annoying, and it is just because I am bored. I really need to be focusing on the road and the other cars around me. We had a close call of getting in an accident three years ago and now when we are on trips and the phone rings, Jim answers it and plays my secretary. It doesn't matter if it is my boss or a customer on the phone- we decided that our safety was first.

Kirk, I have been listening to Frehley's Comet today, especially Fallen Angel. I had forgotten how much I loved them and when you played your CD it reminded me. Thank you, Brother!

Heidi Meeley said...

Laura, Jim and I have been toying with getting rid of our land line and just using our cell phones just because of the "free" long distance. Most of our family and friends have the same carrier and it makes sense. I think it is a decision that makes sense.

I was really appalled at the show when I saw how many people were on their phones that should have been doing business. It was indeed disrespectful. It was the icing on the cake that made me do this post.

It was wonderful to see you at the show, by the way!

Kirk Jarvinen said...

Heidi Meeley said:(Kirk, I have been listening to Frehley's Comet today, especially Fallen Angel. I had forgotten how much I loved them and when you played your CD it reminded me. Thank you, Brother!)

Second Sighting is a great album! All of Ace's songs are cool, but for me, I especially love the songs written, and with lead vocals by Tod Howarth (Time Ain't Running Out, It's Over Now, Loser in a Fight, Fallen Angel, New Kind Of Lover)

I think that 50% of this album's strengths are due to his talent.

My favorite song on it is a tie between Time Ain't Running Out & Fallen Angel:)

Howarth is an awesome vocalist. I wish he could have gotten the same opportunity to front his own Hair Metal band after Frehley's Comet (like Mark Slaughter did when Vinnie Vincent's INVASION disbanded).

I reminded you how good Frehley's Comet was, but you reminded me how cool Vandenberg's pre-Whitesnake solo albums are. I've got "Heading For A Storm" on my turntable right now and I'm gonna "ROCK ON"

Ahhh, IF ONLY Howarth & Vandenberg had formed a band in the late 80's!!!

Heidi Meeley said...

Kirk, you are absolutely right about Howarth making the difference on the second album. It took the band to a whole 'nother level. I wonder what he is doing now?

I am glad you got some Vandenberg going! I have my original cassette tapes down in our basement- I might have to go bring them upstairs here and rock out!

I was listening to a little old school Kix and Dokken the other day on the elliptical, and it still sounds fresh to me! I don't think I will ever quit listening to metal, it is totally ingrained into my system!

Rock on, my brother!

Kirk Jarvinen said...

Same here. It's still cool now, but I'm not so sure how everyone we know will take it when we are still head-banging in our sixties ;)

Here's some breaking news about a new album from DOKKEN I thought you'd like to see...

Rock like it's 1989, my sista from a METAL MUTHA!