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WE were all taught that it’s rude to whisper in public but there’s a digital age discourtesy which is causing angst and people are venting about it.
Listening to speakerphone conversations in public can be extremely annoying and a recognised authority in etiquette says it’s actually an invasion of personal space.
June Dally-Watkins managing director Jodie-Bache McLean told The Courier-Mail that the latest bugbear, which people constantly complain about on social media, is a learned behaviour and part of the “I want it now” culture of the 21st century.
Ms Bache-McLean did not believe people went out of their way to be bad mannered by using a speakerphone in public but it was a reflection of how technology has changed society’s values and habits.
“The definition of etiquette is the rules that govern acceptable behaviour … it’s like when someone goes into a lift and they are continuing their conversation on the phone,” she said.
“We are becoming so insular that we are forgetting we are visible and what’s happening we are transferring those behaviours into the outside world and sometimes we forget.
“I don’t believe people are inherently bad mannered and everything we do is from our learned behaviour.”
Ms Bache-McLean said there may be reasons why people prefer to activate a speaker than press a mobile phone against their head, but that still didn’t make it right to annoy or frustrate those within earshot, especially on public transport.
“People might be on speaker because they are conscious about microwave signals … because they are worried about their health and they’re forgetting other people are around them,” she said.
“It’s invading our own personal space and that’s the problem. The more you continue to communicate in your own little world the more you offend others.”
Train travellers should resort to the ‘quiet’ carriage to avoid being annoyed by speakerphone conversations.
Queensland Rail has had at least one, if not two, ‘quiet’ carriages on each of its metropolitan trains since 2010, says QR boss Nick Easy.
“In 2010, Queensland Rail introduced quiet carriages, a first at the time for the Australian railway,” Mr Easy said.
“These designated carriages are dedicated to customers who wish to travel in peace, without excess noise.
“Customers travelling in the quiet carriages are asked to put their devices on silent, avoid talking on mobile phones or listening to loud music, and keep conversations to a minimum.”
While QR said noise complaints are extremely rare, there is no shortage of people taking offence on social media.
“Why do people talk on speakerphone in public? It happens A LOT when I’m picking my son up from school. I got to hear abt someone’s bowels,” tweeted Miram C.
Another person wrote how “speakerphone should be banned in public” and others suggested there is a place in “hell” for people who use a speakerphone.
Ms Bache-McLean said there are other issues of concern with the way people use their mobile phones in public.
“A pet hate, and I’m seeing it more and more, is that when people are walking down the street, they are not looking at where they are walking they are looking at their phone” she said.
“We’ve got an ‘I want it now, right now’ culture … I’ve had so many people run into me and they are not noticing the world round them and we are losing the art of communication,
“We have to be mindful of the type of behaviour we are displaying.”