As long as I can remember observing the phenomenon, the “act” of listening to someone talk on a cell phone has annoyed me. On the other hand, unless the participant voices are overly loud or grating, listening to two people talking in a cafe rarely bugs me–in fact, it’s often good ambience for writing. (Especially at a place like The Underdog Cafe, where it has been scientifically proven that 99.23% of all conversations are exceedingly intelligent.) But I find overhearing half a conversation irritating.
As far as back as when cell phones first became the fashion, my theory has been that the act of hearing one side of a conversation forces my brain to fill in the other side of the conversation. I can’t not guess at what the other person is saying. I don’t think it’s exclusive to writers, but maybe writers (thinking about dialogue in a very intentional way) are more susceptible to this irritation. I’ve told friends about my theory over the years; they can back me up here.
Turns out I was right, that’s just the reason it’s maddening! Cornell University researchers found this to be true.
I love being right, even if it confirms a reason for something that I’ve always hated. Yes, I said hated. However, being that I am human, and therefor a hypocrite, I own a cell phone. And have talked upon it. I try not to have conversations where there is a captive audience–usually I go to a hallway or go outside, away from other people. Partially because I value privacy (so why do I blog? Hmmm…) but also because I know how irritating it is to hear others’ conversations.
Just trying to do my part to be a good, community-minded citizen.
But I do love being right.