#VinitasPune: When Mobile Phones Get Annoying And Unbearable

Image for representation only


The `please switch off your mobiles’ call that went unheeded caught the ire of noted performing artists of Maharashtra and naturally so…

The menace of the mobile phone is accentuated, particularly in public auditoriums and cinema theatres and it never seems to improve!

The organisers’ sincere appeal, asking the audience to switch off their mobiles or put them on a silent mode, is often violated with that one or two irritating ringtones that go off amidst a silent environ or even loud talk over the mobile phone, during a public lecture, theatre play or a movie.

Organisers have found various ways for such appeals – sometimes adding a humorous note to it; sometimes saying it sternly and the other day, I witnessed a unique way.

Some volunteers were carrying placards of `swtich off your mobile’ sign and waving it fervently as people entered the auditorium! And yet, a couple of mobiles rang loudly, with the owners struggling to switch them off!

This menace of public nuisance and annoyance came to the limelight about four weeks back, when Subodh Bhave, a leading Marathi actor and theatre artist, was performing in the `Ashrunchi hee fule’ drama at the Ravindra Kala Mandir in Mumbai. Just as the play reached an intense mode, a mobile rang loudly. Irritated, Bhave, expressed instantly whether it was time to stop the play due to this loud disturbance and took to Twitter and Facebook. In fact, he felt that it was time to give up on acting in dramas, as it implies that perhaps people have lost interest in such shows or do not take them as seriously and respectfully.

In the interviews which he gave to Marathi channels he explained that, ‘this was not a one-off incident. Over the years, despite fervent appeals, mobile ring tones in public theatres have become a menace.

A live play is not just about actors showcasing their talent – it is about a deep connection and bond that is established between the actors and the audience, for those two hours. And suddenly, in this emotionally charged atmosphere, when the mobile rings loudly, it is humiliating, not only to the performing artists but the people as well.’’ Elaborating that people spend their precious time and money for the love of theatre and so come from far distances to see plays, they too should be respected.

Agreeing that senior citizens are not often acclimatised to the mobile technology, he requests them to take the help of those seated near them to help them switch off the mobile.

Bhave’s sentiments and the pain that he feels, are not irrelevant. Each one of us identifies with it.

This manifested in the response he got for his posts. Sometime back, when I had gone for a movie, I was aghast to see this man, a couple of rows in front of me, talking so loudly over the phone and disturbing others, but he was not bothered. Also, people keep checking their WhatsApp and Facebook while the movie is going on; the bright screen light of which, is extremely disturbing to others around.

It is interesting to note that, in one of the key survey findings of mobile etiquettes conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life project in 2011, the observation was that, ‘While connectivity at one’s fingertips has enabled people be more productive, how people use technology in the presence of others can lead to frustration.

The majority of U.S. adults surveyed (92 percent) agree that they wish people practiced better etiquette when it comes to using their mobile devices in public areas. Roughly one in five adults (19 percent) admits to poor mobile behavior but continues the behavior because everyone else is doing it.’’

I always have my heart-in-my mouth, after boarding a plane. Even after the announcement to switch of the mobile and any other electronic device, before the take-off, you will find people still chatting over the phone or texting. Once, a gentleman was pompously and loudly talking over the phone. When the airhostess requested him to stop his conversation and switch the mobile off, he looked at her condescendingly, continued to talk for another 30 seconds, as if nothing happened, and then switched it off.

I was aghast that this individual does not care for the safety of him and the passengers. As apparently, below 10,000 ft, the mobile devices may (not established) interfere with the cockpit’s navigation system.

There are other instances – talking loudly over the phone in malls, in restaurants, while sharing cabs, in hotel lounges…but here at least it is not a captive audience. Nevertheless, it is high time that we bring in mobile etiquettes when in public. Many of us who indulge in such manners have seen so many years without this communication gadget. Let’s bring back some part of our old lifestyle. 

A great advantage of keeping the mobile phone silent, not only in public events but also when you are meeting your friend over a cup of coffee is that, you switched off your mind too about having to answer your calls and can enjoy your friendship moments, better. 

I would like to conclude with the flip side of the story. I go for yoga, twice a week and the Yoga teacher is simply awesome.

He believes in the theory that if a person is worried about something and answering the mobile phone is a way to relieve his or her stress, then the phone should be answered. Otherwise, he or she may not be able to concentrate in the class.

He tells us, he has no qualms if the mobile phones are not kept on silent and if one would like to answer them while the Yoga session is going on. So, very coolly participants simply get up when their mobile rings and come back after they answer the call.

Now, what do you have to say of such an attitude?


Vinita Deshmukh

Vinita Deshmukh

Passion for the written word that comes alive, not only to tell a story, but to speak out loud about all that's good, bad and the ugly in society...

That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.

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Vinita Deshmukh