Boycotting Bluetooth, sort of
I've loved my wireless cell phone headset from day one. Granted, I'm using a wired headset for now, 'cause I haven't seen my Bluetooth in months (probably vacuumed it up, accidentally, or something). But I love the technology nonetheless.
So I was watching the Boondocks last night on Cartoon Network. And while I often cite moments from 'toons like the Boondocks and South Park, I'd never suggest we build our personal moral platforms off the plot of a cartoon. Still, I think I'm gonna conduct a personal experiment based on something I saw on the show last night.
Two wealthy morons were sneaking around in combat gear, burglarizing homes in a high end neighborhood in the fictional Chicago suburb of Woodcrest. While one of them barked instructions and tried to engage the other in conversation as they drove to their crime scenes, the other kept saying bizarre things. Each time the first burglar was baffled for a moment till he realized the other guy wasn't talking back to him. The other guy was talking to a girlfriend on his Bluetooth headset that guy #1 couldn't see.
So for most of the episode, burglar #1 lectured burglar #2 on the "evils" of almost-invisible headsets for phones.
And you know what? He had a point. He argued that the reason we hold phones up to our heads is to let other people know we're busy. In fact, it's how phones were designed. But his logic was sound.
Holding a phone - excluding the 1980s lunchbox-sized cell phones that caused brain tumors and shrank testicles - up to your ear, tells everyone around you that your time, for the moment, is occupied.
It is a preemptive strike against interruptions. People are less likely to approach you and break into your conversation, if they see you're on the phone.
It is also a safeguard against angry reactions to any dumb thing you might say into your phone. Say something stupid into a Bluetooth headset, and you might get smacked by the person standing closest to you on your other side. Say something stupid into a handheld phone, and the worst you'll get is a harsh look.
Plus, there's something about holding a phone that demonstrates the person on the other end has your full attention. Free your hands by way of a headset while you're on the phone, and tell me with a straight face that in less than a minute you're not already using both hands to fiddle with something else that diverts some of your attention from the person you're talking to.
Since rude interruptions, lack of clarity, and divided attention are three of my biggest pet peeves, then for the foreseeable future (until I can't stave off hypocrisy any longer), I am going to hold my phone to the side of my head...and hope that nothing inside my skull or my shorts shrinks or glows as a result of my dedication to civility.
UPDATE: I forgot one exception. If I absolutely have to take or make a call while I'm driving, I'll use my headset.