Our lives today are filled with the latest and greatest technology. Wherever we go, whatever we do, chances are there’s something in our immediate vicinity that runs off electricity or battery power – hell, for us geeks it’s practically sacrilege to leave the house without phones, laptops, MP3 players and digital cameras. But with this growing dependence and acceptance of gadgets as an extension of ourselves, somewhere along the line some of us forgot that we are still people, and still require to maintain a consideration for our fellow man or woman. After all, even though it is our ability to create and use gadgets that separates us from the animals, it is our ability to understand their social impact that makes us truly human. There are many potential gadget etiquette issues that could be addressed, but today I’ll be focussing on one in particular: playing music through your mobile phone’s speaker at loud volumes in public places. And I’m not talking about the park (although that’s bad enough) – I’m talking about shopping centres, restaurants, and other places where there is a lot of foot traffic.
In the past fortnight, I’ve been exposed to two separate incidents of this horrendous misuse of technology. And before you comment that I am exaggerating the offence remember that you weren’t the one to be subjected to the combination of instruments and synthesisers blasted together in a not-quite-random-but-not-quite-structured excuse for music. The first incident occurred at the local shopping centre. One guy, shorts exposing relatively cheap satin boxer shorts and a white singlet that proclaimed he was tougher than his choice of music suggested, leaning against a railing with music blasting from his Nokia.
The second event was similar, although more disturbing as it involved a young girl of about eight walking next to her father as they entered a supermarket. I say more disturbing because the father – who should be one of the key people in this girl’s life to teach her the moral responsibilities of gadget use – made no effort to try and stop his daughter from inducing terrible pain and suffering on the masses of people they passed.
Now maybe it’s just me, but I understand that there is a time and a place for sharing music – generally when the people I’m sharing the music with are willing subjects. If that’s not the case, then get yourself a pair of headphones – they’re not expensive, and pretty much every phone or MP3 player these days comes with a pair in the box – and keep your poor taste in music to yourself.
What are your thoughts on gadget etiquette? Should we perhaps try and make this a mandatory course of study for children in today’s schools? Or pass legislation that prohibits the public broadcast of crappy music from portable devices? Thoughts in the comments please…