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Culture

Dear noisy texters, please be quiet

Technically Incorrect: Some people simply never mute their phones. Why?

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Ping!

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She sat down two seats from me on the flight to Europe, next to my girlfriend.

She seemed a very pleasant woman. She even made to chat.

Suddenly: Ping!

She'd received a text then proceeded to answer it. She kept staring at the screen, presumably waiting for the response.

Ping!

Yes, she got a response. It made her smile. She paused, then composed another text and sent it.

Ping!

Another reply. Another focused period of composition. Another text sent. Another ping!

This went on for at least 20 pings. It stopped only when the cabin crew asked for all electronic devices to be switched off.

It was harder for my ears and nervous system to switch off. Why is it that certain people don't want to switch their ringers off when they're sending a series of texts in public? It's not as if they can't see the texts coming through. They're staring at the screen waiting for them. And even if they're not, can't they switch to vibrate?

Are they so engrossed in their own world that they don't imagine someone else might find the constant pinging annoying? Don't they themselves find the constant pinging annoying?

The trip was a great success. On our way back, we stopped in London for a night. There we were, sitting in a Heathrow Airport restaurant. Three people sat at a table to our left, two at a table to our right.

Just as I took the second sip of a passable Semillon: Ping!

Was this some unseen hand trying to drive me to madness? This time, though, surely the gentleman in question would turn out to be a gentleman. He was from Texas, where gentleness and manliness fuse to create the apogee of decency.

Ping!

But no. We weren't to be blessed. The pings went on. And on. All the way through dinner. Somehow, we began to forget about them.

This was thanks to the couple the other side. They were, we overheard, from Senegal. They were chatting animatedly. Suddenly, the man took out his iPhone. He tapped it once or twice. A news show appeared on the screen.

He held his phone up and he and his paramour then watched the whole thing, sound on high, for the next 25 minutes. During dinner. At a restaurant.

You'll tell me this is just me. You'll tell me this is the modern world and I should just get used to it. You'll tell me that our phones are our islands and we should glory in the fact that no human can ever be bored again.

I submit that this is a worldwide phenomenon. It's not about different generations, different classes or different parts of the world.

People will sit in public places and assume that they can play their videos, TV shows, movies and video games at full blast.

Because, yeah, cool.

They assume that they can let their phones blast to distraction because, well, why?

Perhaps this is one of those icky, picky areas where I'm unreasonably intolerant.

Or perhaps pings ain't what they used to be. (My apologies. You see what it's done to me?)