Cell phone etiquette or lack thereof

By C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR, Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY
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Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head and Neck Imaging, at Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.

Apparently we love our own cell phones, but we hate everyone else’s.

—Joe Bob Briggs

I give a few talks at meetings. It is a bit of an ego boost for me to be asked, and I take my talks pretty seriously. I want people to learn a few things, and I hope that I can impart a few bits of wisdom. By and large, people are pretty attentive, but you expect a few sleepers in the audience, always. Regardless of the time of the lecture, someone needs a nap. I can always count on one thing to wake up a few, however. CELL PHONES.

I’m sure you’ve been at a talk lately, and you’ve seen the disclaimer slide, “Please silence cell phones,” and you’ve heard someone or several someones remind you to put your phone on vibrate or turn it off. What I think happens then is that a few people take their phones and put them on the “annoying ring tone” setting. Seriously. I was speaking at a meeting a few weeks ago, and in a moment of relative quiet (because we all know that’s the IDEAL time for the call to come in), I was listening to Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” at full volume. Because that’s the other item – not only did someone not turn the phone to silent, they switched it to MAXIMUM volume. Lots of marimba and Latin dance music. A fair representation of country music.

I don’t know what part I like the best, the ring tone or the looks of people beside the cell phone owner. Lots of looks of disgust. No one says anything, but it’s almost like people don’t want to let bad-ring-tone-owner out of their aisle. Pin them in and make them listen to their ring tone a bit more. I love that people like to wait until they hit the back of the room before they speak on the phone. For sure, they don’t want to interrupt the meeting by speaking on the phone. The only thing funnier is watching everyone in the proximity of the offending ring tone turning THEIR phones off afterwards.

Get a better ring tone. And pay attention. Silence that phone. Mahalo.

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Cell phone etiquette or lack thereof.  Appl Radiol. 

January 18, 2013

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