Shut Up, Already

Hey you! Yes, you! Put down that mobile phone and listen up.

In the States, July is National Cellphone Courtesy Month. Yeah, we were surprised, too. But it must be true, because we read it in USA Today, the Voice of the People.

This dose of mobile manners is the brainchild of Jacqueline Whitmore, who runs the Protocol School of Palm Beach. Apparently, she came up with the idea while consulting for Sprint PCS (NYSE: PCS).

Her advice to cell users ("21st Century Pariahs," according to USA Today) is to speak quietly and set the phone to vibrate when in museums, libraries, or places of worship. Try to avoid using them at the dinner table; and if you must call from the toilet stall, at least finish the call before you flush [ed. note: eewww!].

Her advice to people annoyed by rude cell phone users is equally genteel. Just move away from them or reason with them in a calm and polite fashion.

That is all very nice and refined, but things have gone a little further than that in the U.K., where the cult of "phone bashing" has gained some notoriety. Basically, irate Anglo-Saxons cheesed off with bumping into slick-backed yuppies yakking into their mobile phones ("Selena's party? Yes, dahling") have taken matters into their own hands. The phone bashers grab surprised users' phones and smash them to pieces before scarpering off.

Unstrung isn't at all certain Ms. Whitmore would be amused.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung
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