“Please silence all cell phones. Violators will be drawn and quartered,” the illuminated PowerPoint screen read at my church Sunday morning. A few people quietly chuckled before the screen disappeared and our pastor began his sermon. Sure enough, nearly 10 minutes into Philippians chapter four, a phone began to chirp in the back row. Raising his eyes only for a moment, Pastor Tim ignored the noise and continued. About 15 minutes after that, an Arabian dance number echoed from the middle right section. And to close out the message was the classic Cingular ring tone. With every ring, whistle and vibrate, the congregation bobbed their heads up and down to first check if it was their own causing the noise and then to see whose it was.
Every Sunday morning the same gentle warning appears for all to see. Although the joke on silence violators was meant to be lighthearted, I almost wished it was enforced that particular morning. It was ridiculous to have this minimal, and repetitious, request be overtly ignored. And served as a blatant reminder of how much our society depends on cell phones, and worse, our inability to follow simple directions.
Cell phone rings let loose everywhere: movie theaters, libraries, church services, classrooms and wherever else we are. Everyone has heard a cell phone ring at the most inappropriate time.
What’s amazing is that everyone has heard one speak up after an announcement was made loud and clear to silence them.
Social etiquette would have never dreamed announcements to silence cell phones would become so common. In situations where it would seem obvious to observe respectful silence – funerals, music recitals, videotaped events, prayer circles – ring tones have emerged.
What amazes me even more is when users actually answer the call. I have sat in theaters and recitals where the person next to me has conducted a full conversation without considering anyone’s reactions. Emergencies and special needs are, of course, excused from these manners. But for the many that are not, take some time to evaluate the meaning of an emergency. I believe this negligence roots to overlooking directions.
The conflict reminds me of how an exercise teachers use to stress the importance of reading directions. In the directions section of a quiz, a teacher will write, “Do not answer any of the questions below for full points.” However, if a student skips the directions and heads straight to answering the quiz, they cannot go back and their quiz counts. It’s a tough lesson, but it trains students where to go first.
The same can be said for forgetting or ignoring directions to silence phones. We get caught up in moving ahead and taking care of ourselves. And our defiance and negligence pays a price in the future.
Now, nobody is perfect and I can understand the million reasons that arise explaining how you missed the simple directions. And I’ll admit I have even been a culprit several times of overlooking these requests. But, I do my best to not make it a habit.
Ten years ago a baby’s cry or a sneeze was targeted as a noise maker. As time and technology progress, our social etiquette changes. With our need to remain connected growing stronger, cell phone chatter threatens to spawn new forms of silence breakers. However, no matter what the device, we have the control. After all, it was not the cell phone that ruined the singer’s solo moment or clean video segment; it was the user’s disrespectful discretion. All it takes is reading a few words and deciding to switch on vibrate to make the difference.
Nicole Knight, a senior Journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.