Tuesday, April 18, 2006

From inane to entertaining

I have a proposal which will, if implemented, do more to improve the aesthetics and entertainment of American culture than any other innovation since Edison invented the phonograph. My plan is based on three basic assumptions and a question:

1. People are going to talk on their cellphones loudly in public places, and no amount of whining, cajoling, pleading, or violence is going to make them stop.
2. The conversations people will have on their cellphones in public places are, for the most part, inane, asinine, and downright dull.
3. People not talking on cellphones in public places are and will continue to be annoyed by being forced to overhear inane, asinine, and downright dull conversations.

Hence, my question: would people not talking on cellphones be less annoyed if the conversations they were forced to overhear were a bit more entertaining? Let's face it: eavesdropping can be fun! Every day millions of people tune in to talk radio and television talk shows (and blogs!) in order to eavesdrop on interesting conversations; no one would ever tune in if talk radio consisted primarily of one-sided conversations that sound like this:

Hi it's me.
Nothing much. I'm at the airport.
Yeah. My flight got delayed.
Dunno. Something mechanical. They're fixing it now.
Pretty hot in Phoenix but it's okay here. Might rain later.

Since we have this immense resource (people willing to run off at the mouth in public places), we have an opportunity--nay, a responsibility--to use it. If people insist on talking loudly into their cellphones in public spaces, the least they can do is be entertaining. I say we make it a federal crime to have boring cellphone conversations in public and empower a new corps of highly-trained law officers to enforce this law. A person caught red-handed in a restaurant yelling into the cellphone "I said I'll pick up toilet paper on the way home" would be issued an Inanity Citation and would have to pay a fine; repeat offenders would be forced to sit in an airport terminal full of angry travellers all day without a newspaper, magazine, book, cellphone, laptop computer, or any other boredom-reducing device.

Before you know it public places would be cleared of inane cellphone conversations and those of us without cellphones could have a little silence in which to eavesdrop on the criminal conspiracies, romantic assignations, and passionate arguments filling public space. Now that's entertainment.


Joy said...

No one wants to overhear my cell phone calls.

Did he eat lunch today?
Yeah, I thought he'd like the peaches...Did he eat the butter?
Thought so. Yesterday he was worried that he couldn't go potty at naptime, did you talk to him about that?...I said you would...
Yes, Yes, I told him that he should go no matter what...
Okay, just wanted to check in...

I'd be ticketed at every stop!

David Martin said...

Common sense dictates that people should not be allowed to drive and talk on a cell phone at the same time. Apparently doing both is roughly equivalent to driving drunk.

I propose that people also not be allowed to walk and talk on a cell phone at the same time. Performing these two activities togther diminishes one's intellectual capacity and results in less than scintillating conversations.

If a cell phone user was obliged to sit down before speaking, I suspect the intelligence level of the user would increase threefold. And that, in turn, would increase the eavesdroppability of the resulting conversation.

Laura said...

I think that we should combine the fines with an America's Funniest Videos-style TV show. It never ceases to amaze me how much people will humiliate themselves for the hope of broadcasting said humiliation on TV and getting money for it.