It seems that no matter where you go in public, there is always someone engaged in a phone call. In the grocery store, an elevator, on the street corner, in restaurants, even the movie theater. I find it aggravating. Now, I realize I am bit old-fashioned about some things. Like preferring books to Kindles or other e-readers. And choosing to use email for correspondence instead of wall posts on FaceBook. I don’t want a camera in my cell phone. I don’t want games in my cell phone. I want my cell phone to stay a phone.
And yes, I know, it’s a losing battle. I’ve already lost. The only cell phone without a camera is the one available from AARP with the extra large buttons. But I choose to ignore all the extras on my base model phone. Which is probably a good thing–who knows what kind of damage I would do to the phone bill trying to find my way around the menu. Let’s just hope I never have to use a complicated PDA phone.
So back to the annoyance of overheard cell phone conversations. We all know that listening to them is distracting. You try not to listen but it’s impossible. Especially when they’re talking as if the person is five miles away and they are using tin cans and strings instead of a highly specialized piece of technology.
A new study out of Cornell University looks at this issue and explains why the irritating one-sided conversation, known as a “half-logue”, distracts us from tasks that require our attention. Interestingly, a monologue or dialogue did not reduce the subject’s ability to perform the assigned tasks in this study. This has some serious safety implications. If you’re curious, you can read the abstract here and Scientific American’s article on it here.